Today 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.