Category: Holocaust


Top footballers to mark Holocaust Memorial Day with anti-racism video

Video featuring Harry Kane and Stef Houghton to be shown at this weekend’s FA Cup matchesLeading football players and managers have taken part in a video to be shown at fourth-round FA Cup matches this weekend urging people to stand up against hatred a…


ISU apologises after nominating ‘offensive’ Auschwitz uniform for costume of year

Anton Shulepov wore costume during free skating programAnti-Defamation League says costume is ‘insensitive and offensive’The International Skating Union has reversed its decision to nominate an “irresponsible and offensive” costume made up of Auschwitz…


Remembering the cream of Jewish footballing talent killed in the Holocaust

While Bert Trautmann became a household name in England despite previous Nazi links, the names of the Jewish players murdered in the death camps remain largely forgottenIt is interesting what people choose to remember. A recent film celebrates Bert Tra…


Remembering the cream of Jewish footballing talent killed in the Holocaust

While Bert Trautmann became a household name in England despite previous Nazi links, the names of the Jewish players murdered in the death camps remain largely forgottenIt is interesting what people choose to remember. A recent film celebrates Bert Tra…


Chelsea launches #WeRemember campaign to raise Holocaust awareness

Campaign running ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day as club faces action over alleged racist chantsThe Chelsea football club owner, Roman Abramovich, and leading players have launched a video and social media campaign to raise awareness of the Holocaust, …


Appointing Billie Jean King to the Sochi Olympics ‘US delegation’ isn’t enough | Nancy Goldstein

Obama, Hollande and other leaders could truly make a difference by condemning Russia’s anti-LGBT rhetoric and actions

President Obama has been getting great press in the past 24 hours for his decision to include tennis legend – and out lesbian – Billie Jean King in the United States delegation attending the 2014 Winter Olympics. He’s being lauded for sending a “clear message” to Russia about its treatment of LGBT people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge Billie Jean King fan, but here’s why I’m not joining the chorus praising Obama – or other leaders.

There’s no mention of Russia’s human rights abuses in the US president’s announcement, or any suggestion of genuine political action. Just the use of the word “diversity” twice. It hardly qualifies as a “strong signal”, but that hasn’t stopped the American press from spinning it that way.

In the past 10 days alone, five western political leaders have said they’ll be skipping the 2014 winter games in Sochi. There wasn’t much response to the first public declaration, by Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk. But German President Joachim Gauck soon followed suit, as did European Union Commissioner for Justice, Citizenship and Fundamental Rights, Viviane Reding. The next day’s announcement by President Obama that he was “unlikely” to attend was followed closely by French President Francois Hollande’s declaration that neither he nor any high-ranking French officials would appear.

None but Reding has publicly declared their decision to be a boycott of Sochi, or said anything about Russia’s draconian anti-LGBT legislation. Still, the press has quickly, and perhaps mistakenly, concluded that the brutal oppression of LGBT Russians is these figures’ primary concern – a conclusion that may make them seem more courageous than they really are, and handily covers for other agendas.

In the absence of any declarations or salient political responses to Russia’s anti-LGBT laws from Germany, the US, France, or Poland, it seems reasonable to wonder if, in fact, something else is at play here. Fear of being caught on the wrong side of history? Or a desire to humiliate and isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin for doing virtually everything imaginable to tick off the west, from sheltering Edward Snowden to jailing protestors from Greenpeace to Pussy Riot, to supporting the Syrian and Ukrainian regimes, while posing as the voice of reason in the New York Times?

But why get into all of this nastiness when it’s possible to stay home, remain silent, and have your behavior construed as moral rectitude?

Whatever the true feelings of any of these western leaders when it comes to LGBT rights, this much is safe to say: none of them is eager to have a photo op with Putin right now. Not when his aggressive consolidation of power and quashing of any opposition is so blatant. And not at an event where there’s so much potential for violence and bad press – all of it recorded in real time by dozens of broadcasters and blasted across the universe via Twitter and Facebook and through every imaginable online site.

All of the signs of potential danger are flashing yellow. Months ago, Putin declared virtual martial law in Sochi, banning all protests, marches, and public gatherings for the duration of the Olympics. Unsurprisingly, the “protest zones” that Putin unveiled recently, in an attempt, one supposes, to calm increasingly anxious corporate sponsors and western nations, will be something of a joke – more of a snare for catching dissidents than a venue for free speech. And who will be the brave political advisor to tell the president that having Russian security forces kill four alleged terrorists near Sochi earlier this week may in fact not be the kind of thing that makes the average American feel better about visiting?

And yes, it’s a particularly bad time for world leaders to be seen with Putin, now when the true implications of Russia’s anti-LGBT laws and the atmosphere of violence they’ve encouraged have become so readily apparent. On Monday, Tonight Show host Jay Leno conveyed to his millions of viewers the same message that LGBT journalists and activists have been trying to get across for months, and that NBC, which has paid $4bn to broadcast in the United States, has been so eager to downplay: contemporary Russia looks increasingly like early Nuremberg-era Germany, with its insistence that Jews were a threat to the purity of its bloodline and the moral fiber of its children.

Each successive day’s news makes it harder to ignore Russia’s movement towards fascism – or the similarities between the Kremlin’s venal campaign and what came to be Germany’s Final Solution. Not with last week’s call, by a Russian TV star before a cheering audience, for a Holocaust rerun – for his kids’ sake. Ivan Okhlobystin, the star of a Russian copy of “Scrubs”, told fans in the city of Novosibirsk on Sunday:

I’d burn them all alive in ovens. It’s Sodom and Gomorrah, as a religious person I can’t be indifferent to it, it’s a living threat to my children.

It would be one thing if Okhlobystin were a lone outlier. But he isn’t the only Russian celebrity to have made such pronouncements to an enthusiastic crowd. Last year, that honor fell to Russia’s leading news anchor, Dmitry Kiselyov, who said – before a live TV audience in the run-up to the enactment of the anti-LGBT laws:

I believe it is not enough to impose fines on gays for engaging in the propaganda of homosexuality among adolescents. We need to ban them from donating blood and sperm, and if they die in car accidents, we need to bury their hearts in the ground or burn them, as they are unsuitable for the aiding of anyone’s life.

Will Kiselyov bring his same flare for Third Reich rhetoric to Russia’s TV coverage of the Sochi Olympics this winter? Viewers will have a chance to see, now that he’s been appointed head of the new Kremlin-dominated network that Putin created last week, after liquidating RIA Novosti, and with it any pretense of an independent media outlet.

It remains to be seen whether there will be any truly brave, outspoken political opposition to Putin’s witch-hunt. Certainly Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, are now under pressure to act. But more interesting is the question of whether others will prod Western leaders from Europe and the United States into genuine political engagement with Russia over its human rights abuses.

Imagine how the stakes will rise if Argentina’s President, Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner – who took on her country’s Catholic hierarchy and staked her reputation on making LGBT marriage legal years before Germany, France, or the United States – decides to offer political asylum to the thousands of LGBT Russians terrified that a new law will strip LGBT people with children of their parental rights?

What if Chile’s President-elect Michele Bachelet puts the politicians responsible for the country’s draconian anti-LGBT laws on a visa ban list?

It would certainly be a welcome change from what we’re seeing now: these low-risk, high-gain gestures from Gaucke, Obama and Hollande. The kind that tap the gAyTM at reelection time and earn plenty of free publicity, but without the expenditure of any serious political capital. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


When antisemitism strikes too close to home | Eva Wiseman

Being Jewish is in fashion! Or so the media tell us. But don’t the usual sweeping generalisations about Jewishness just accentuate an us-versus-them mentality?The thing is, you know where you are with a swastika. There is no confusion whatsoever; no “M…