Holocaust Remembrance Day
“People want to know what makes evil happen.”
My personal connection to the Holocaust is what motivates my ongoing involvement with refugee causes today.
The White House statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day did not mention Jews or anti-Semitism. As Holocaust historian Professor Deborah Lipstadt put it, "what we saw from the White House was classic softcore denial. The Holocaust was de-Judaized."
Sure, Nazi references or comparisons to past atrocities are the cheapest of allegories, rendered embarrassing and powerless by exaggeration and overuse. But take a moment, look at what's happening.
When I was a young child I remember watching my dad as his headaches would start. His eyes would begin to glaze over. In those moments, my dad would regress to a terrified six-year-old boy, speaking in whispered tones in his native Yiddish, begging his sister to be quiet as they hid from the Nazis in a Belgian church.
If we Jews and all other citizens of humanity actually mean the words we speak when we say, "never again," then we must take a stand, today, and actively choose to care and to defend justice by celebrating the uncelebrated and by protecting and giving voice to the voiceless among us, and to say that hatred and intolerance, in any shape or form, no matter how small, has no place in this world.
As we remember the six million Jewish victims of the Shoah -- defamed, demonized and dehumanized, as prologue or justification for genocide -- we have to understand that the mass murder of six million Jews, and millions of non-Jews, is not a matter of abstract statistics. For unto each person there is a name, an identity; each person is a universe. As our sages tell us, "whoever saves a single life, it is as if he or she has saved an entire universe." Conversely, whoever has killed a person, it is as if they have killed an entire universe. Indifference in the face of evil is acquiescence with evil itself.
It was a cool spring day, and the sunlight shone kindly down on Auschwitz. Beyond the barbed wire, villagers walked briskly to church in their Sunday finest. Eva walked in queue with the other women and children toward "the showers," a place the adults knew was the gas chamber. They were 200 meters away.
We are witnessing yet again another state-sanctioned incitement to hate and genocide, whose epicentre is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran, which denies the Nazi Holocaust as it incites a Middle Eastern one.