The Conspiracy

Lessons of the Holocaust

holorememToday is International Holocaust day, but I wonder what is the point of such a day? I  suppose it’s appropriate to have a set date for the world to remember the Holocaust. Instituted by the UN in 2007,  its purpose was to remember “the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minorities, will forever be a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice.”

Today is the day we are specifically supposed to remember the past, but also remember what not to do, or not let happen — don’t let evil and hatred take a hold of society again.

But is it only today we are supposed to go around making flowery speeches about world love, peace, acceptance, and beautiful morals and principles? Generally that’s what most of these international memorials do.  Yet is it what’s happening on the ground?

For me, living in Israel, these ideas are consistently making me shudder as I see what is happening to Israeli society.  There are policies and attitudes, that I don’t think will lead up to anything close to a “Holocaust”, but to actions that shame the lessons we learn from it:  Protests continue in Tel Aviv against the African refugees taking temporary refuge here; legislation in the Knesset that discriminate against minorities and Rabbis banning together to warm Jews not to sell or rent to Arabs. It’s racism, prejudice and fear of the other.

It’s great that we can take one day out of the year to remember the world’s largest genocide. Today I take the time to think about the victims, and the atrocities they faced. However, it shouldn’t be today only that we think about the lessons of the Holocaust: the consequences of racism, and exclusiveness. How many times do we say never again? We shouldn’t only say it in face of the genocide itself, but also the hate that took grip of a people — and hate that still exists today.

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2 Older Responses to “Lessons of the Holocaust”

  1. Alex
    January 28, 2011 at 2:46 am #

    I agree that every day must be a day that we remember the Holocaust; we must constantly work to fight racism, antisemitism, and other exclusionary policies. It is similar to Jewish holidays — they are meant to remind us of a larger theme that we should really be thinking about the other 365 days as well. But what I would hope the world gets out of today is the understanding that the Jewish state of Israel, if nothing else (although it is obviously a lot more) is a memorial of the Holocaust. Remembering the Holocaust should spur the rest of the world’s nations to fight against those who would seek to destroy Israel today and against those who use Israel as a veil for antisemitism. Yes, Israel has problems internally that they must fix — the rabbis decree is a disgrace! — but there are much larger problems facing Israel externally.

  2. David Zarmi
    January 31, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

    Perhaps the purpose of a specific Holocaust Memorial Day is to have one day be a break from the non-stop criticism of Israel and its society and to remember, in historical context, its founding and what happens when there isn’t sucha country. In other words, one (or three or four) days a year when you don’t have to read articles like this. Tomorrow you can go back to picking apart Israeli society.

    (I am not denying that there are things to pick apart, although your oversimplifications leave much, indeed, most, wanting. Only that your tone is exceedingly harsh and not really deserving of a respectful response.)

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