Antisemitism in Context
Reporting that leads to a greater understanding of antisemitism
See “Voices of the Forgotten,” a new virtual Holocaust museum, from the inside and hear Moment‘s Social Media Manager Andrew Michaels speak with its creator Luc Bernard. (Read about some of the backlash Bernard experienced below).
Antisemitism Backlash Aimed at Virtual Holocaust Museum and its Creator
Luc Bernard, 37, has been designing and creating video games for over a decade. His most recent creation, “Voices of the Forgotten,” is a virtual Holocaust museum available only to players of Fortnite, a popular online combat-themed game. He says it was inspired by the fact that only 20 percent of Americans have ever visited a Holocaust museum.
However, soon after the virtual museum was approved by Fortnite’s parent company, Epic Games, the well-known Holocaust denier and antisemite Nick Fuentes incited his followers against Bernard, who began receiving a flood of threatening messages on X (the social media app formerly known as Twitter). These included comments like “Jews will never let you forget a fake event,” “Where’s the train with you on it” and references to aliens, Adolf Hitler and gas chambers.
Bernard’s motivation for the game and the virtual museum was educational. He saw that Fortnite was a popular platform that millions of young people were using consistently, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. He recognized that a video game like Fortnite could be a vehicle for sharing Holocaust education in a way that might get younger people to pay attention to the facts. Away from a school or physical museum, a virtual museum has the potential to bring the game’s users into an educational experience without their realizing it. Bernard wrote on X, “The entire goal is to make Holocaust education accessible to everyone for free and completely transform the space for the future.” Bernard’s previous project, The Light in the Darkness, was a game in which the player controls a French Jewish family trying to flee Nazi Europe. Bernard—whom Moment’s Andrew Michaels recently interviewed—designed the game in such a way that the user will always lose, connecting this to Holocaust victims’ total lack of agency. “I didn’t want to make it seem like people in the Holocaust had a choice,” Bernard told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. He hopes that this aspect of the game and the new Fortnite museum steer players towards the truth about the Holocaust and away from the voices of deniers like Fuentes.
Brazil, June 13, 2023
Neo-Nazism is on the rise in Brazil. A recent event geared towards Haitian immigrants in the country’s southern region of Santa Catarina was nearly canceled after an anonymous email threatening to “commit a massacre” was sent to the event’s organizer—”Santa Catarina is a land of WHITE PEOPLE, FOR WHITE PEOPLE,” said the email, which ended “SIEG HEIL.” Incidents such as this one have become more common in Brazil in the last five years. Neo-Nazi activity rose sharply since 2019, and has risen dramatically since then. The event itself proceeded without incident, but the fear of neo-Nazism and far-right extremism remains prevalent in the state of Santa Clara.
Germany, August 12, 2023
Apparent arson destroyed a bucherboxx, or “book box,” located at a railroad station from which thousands of Jews were deported out of Germany in 1941 and 1942. This bucherboxx held books dedicated to Holocaust education and memory, and has been stationed by Track 17 at the Grunewald Train Station since 2012. German police say that an antisemitic note was discovered along with the fire, but they have not revealed any more information.
Turkey, August 14, 2023
In a recent interview on a popular Turkish news station lawyer Rezan Epözdemir and newscaster Fatih Altayli discussed an antisemitic Turkish myth without disclaiming its falsity. In the context of a recent court case, Epözdemir described the “Rite of the Unleavened,” in which Jewish men supposedly prove their manhood by murdering non-Jewish virgin women, a notion that parallels the blood libel myth in Europe. “This was the reason for the execution of many families of Jewish origin in the Ottoman Empire,” explained the lawyer. Both Epözdemir and Altayli have since been questioned as to why neither explicitly called out the antisemitism and untruth of these myths.
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