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Anti-Semitism linked to forgetting Holocaust

By MELANIE MARCIANO, United Press International

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- The recent increase in worldwide anti-Semitism arose from the neglect of atrocities committed against Jews during the Holocaust, the chairman of a U.S. commission said Tuesday.

Other observers link the phenomenon to recent conflict in the Middle East. In a "Newsmaker" presentation at the National Press Club, Warren L. Miller, chairman of the Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, said many European countries do not know, or deny, the historical facts of the Holocaust. "Often, when it is acknowledged, blame is directed elsewhere -- on another country, another regime," Miller said. "Unless the lessons are taught fully and widely, and the facts publicly acknowledged, all our cries of 'Never again' will only breed false hope."

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As a land of immigrants, many of the events and places that have shaped who we are have their origins in other countries, Miller said.

The commission's most important mandate is to reach agreements with foreign governments to identify and protect the cultural sites of minority groups, especially groups that were victims of genocide during World War II.

Miller said the honoring of memorials and museum-building are essential in educating and remembering tragedies of the past. Miller has discovered that many places where Jews were tormented "remain hidden, or even when known, are ignored or neglected. In Ukraine, hundreds of mass graves have still not been found. Soon there will be no witnesses left to tell us where these sites are located," Miller said.

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The 20 unpaid commissioners were appointed by the president.

To forget the past could lead to repeat disaster, Miller said in reference to the present seriousness of worldwide anti-Jewish views, "In almost every country of Europe, East and West, there have been reported incidents of anti-Semitic vandalism or violence in the past two years," he said.

But David Gelernter, professor of computer science at Yale, said the problem goes back 2,000 years. "Europe has a tradition of anti-Semitism going back to the Roman Empire," he said in a phone interview. In the Middle East and Europe, hatred for Israel and Jews is closely tied to hatred of America, said Gelernter, who was almost killed by Unabomber Ted Kaczynski in 1993.

In America, Jews are wealthy and powerful, the professor said, adding that the foundations of the U.S. government and culture are strongly Jewish and Christian.

Phyllis Chesler, a feminist scholar and human rights activist, is worried about current developments.

Chesler told United Press International that the continued spread of modern anti-Semitism is setting the stage for disaster to repeat itself. She said the danger to Jews today is graver and more complex than it was in the pagan or medieval-Christian world. And, unlike during the World War II period, hate propaganda can now move around the world with the speed of light.

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But Miller finds hope in the administration's strong backing of the commission's projects and goals. "Never before have we had the kind of interest, support and direct involvement from an administration that we have today," he said.

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