One of the most frightening twists of the global coronavirus pandemic is the worldwide uptick in anti-Semitism. This almost included a prime-time slot on Fox’s “Soul TV” for America’s most notorious anti-Semite, Louis Farrakhan. Just a few days ago in his Final Call magazine, Farrakhan’s defenders tried to cover up some of their leaders’ most notorious anti-Semitic rants. When he called Hitler a “great man,” they wrote that he just meant great in “power” for raising up Germany from nothing.
This comes on top of the recent Oxford University study showing that nearly 20 percent of those polled blame Jews for starting COVID-19. With some explaining that Jews can make money from the vaccine that cures it.
Yes, here we go again … it’s always the Jews. So, said Manetho the Egyptian priest, some 2,300 years ago as he reinvented the Bible’s story of the Exodus. The Jews, he declared, were never redeemed from slavery by a God who split the sea with his miracles and wonders. Rather, they were expelled because of contagion and passing on their filth endangering the greater Egyptian society.
This deception was again replayed in medieval Europe. Who caused the Black Death from 1348 to 1351, when 200 communities were wiped out? Of course, came the cry, it was again the Jews who poisoned the wells.
That was precisely the case in the modern era, when on April 20, 1945, Nazi SS chief Heinrich Himmler met secretly behind his Führer’s back with Norbert Masur the representative of the World Jewish Congress desperately seeking an end to World War II. Rather than admitting the truth about the gassing of millions of innocent men woman and children, Himmler simply explained to Masur, “Throughout the war, we came into contact with masses of the Eastern Jewish proletariat … these Jews not only helped the partisans but were infected by typhus. In order to curtail the epidemics, we had to build crematoria where we could burn the corpses of the large number of people who died because of these diseases and now they’ll get us just for doing that.”
Himmler, of course, never mentioned the inadequate sanitation and water supplies, coupled with the inhumane starvation rations. Nor did he bother telling Masur how his doctors and nurses drew the last ounces of blood from the arms of their skeleton-looking victims to make them available to his SS killers.
Which brings us to today’s anti-Semite, who will never hear a Louis Farrakhan or his likes ever acknowledge the enormous contributions that Jews have made for the betterment of humankind in almost every field. How in the Middle Ages even the kings and queens would trust no one with their personal care but Jewish physicians? That the same was true of the popes of the Middle Ages from Martin IV to Innocent X. That even Saladin, the powerful leader in the Muslim world, would have no one but the great Maimonides as his personal physician.
Contemporary anti-Semitic leaders deliberately hide from their followers the fact that Jews account for 40 percent of U.S. Nobel prizes in medicine. They will never tell them that if they ever needed hospital care that it was the Jews who were instrumental in the inventions of anesthesia, cancer chemotherapy and radiation oncology.
Nor will they ever admit that it was the descendants of Abraham who played a crucial role in the development of penicillin, streptomycin, aspirin and the polio vaccines. Not to speak of, the chlorination of drinking water, the eradication of smallpox and measles, the Hepatitis B vaccine and the mammogram. That these combined inventions lengthened and saved the lives of hundreds of millions of Christians, Muslims and Jews—irrespective of color, race or religion.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to finally see Louis Farrakhan set aside his hate and rancor? Rather than denigrating Jews, what if he could use his pulpit to inspire his followers to emulate the remarkable contributions made by a very small minority against all odds for the betterment and advancement of all humankind?
Rabbi Marvin Hier is founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.