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CLEVELAND (RNS) Violence in the Middle East and worldwide economic distress have combined to produce “the biggest explosion of anti-Semitism globally that we have witnessed since World War II,”
according to the national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
Abraham Foxman, who has led the New York-based ADL since 1987, told an audience at the City Club of Cleveland on Friday (April 24) that he wants to know where the outrage is over this bigotry against Jews.
“I don’t hear it,” he said.
Foxman, a Holocaust survivor recognized for his leadership combating bigotry, said the absence of outrage echoes a question he has about the Holocaust.
“Why was the world silent? The world knew what was happening. To know that they (world leaders) knew is a very haunting fact. Wherever people stood up to say `no,’ people lived,” he said.
Foxman, 69, said he was speaking partly to counter recent remarks by U.N. relief director John Ging, who spoke in the same venue and criticized Israel for last year’s offensive into Gaza aimed at the Islamic Hamas movement.
Foxman said the Gaza assault was a response to Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel. He said the offensive was “as close to a just war as you can possibly have.”
While Foxman said any violence in the Middle East is normally accompanied by a rise in anti-Semitism, the economic crisis stirred a separate strain of hatred. A scapegoat was needed, and “very quickly it was the Jews,” Foxman observed.
He said the scapegoating draws on a belief that Jews control world finances, an idea so old and pervasive that former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson thought it was a compliment when he told a rabbinic group during his presidential campaign that “earning money” is “sort of part of the Jewish tradition.”
By Tom Feran
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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