Op-Ed: The Institutionalization of Holocaust Remembrance
The term "Holocaust," originally from the Greek word "holokauston" which means "sacrifice by fire," refers to the Nazi's persecution and planned slaughter of the Jewish people. The Hebrew word "Shoah," which means "devastation, ruin, or waste," is also used to describe this genocide. The Nazis killed approximately two-thirds of all Jews living in Europe. An estimated 1.1 million children were murdered in the Holocaust.
Today more than at any time in the 65 years since the establishment of the State of Israel, we, the Jewish people, must ask ourselves honestly just how much the world has internalized the lessons of the Holocaust, and whether the world has learned anything at all.
This past week, Jews throughout the world held their heads high lighting beacons to symbolize the millions of Jews that are no longer with us, and reminding the world why they are no longer with us. Jews remind the world every year which individuals and which nation participated in inflicting the greatest genocide the world has known on the Jewish people.
Yet despite this yearly ritual, and the sincerity of nations of the world in recognizing this monumental event in world history, has the institutionalization of Holocaust Remembrance created a global dissonance, enabling some nations of the world to acknowledge the attempted destruction of the Jewish nation while at the same time tolerate threats of genocide uttered by the leaders of Iran? Just this last month there were several.
Has this global dissonance encouraged the growth in the number of organizations and nations willing to join or justify hateful demonizations campaigns aimed at destroying the Jewish state? These individuals and their organizations have gone beyond calls for boycotts and divestment, claiming to be fully justified in calling for the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel.
We must remain adamant and refuse to accept this dangerous narrative that is reported as if it is acceptable in the global discourse. We should state in no uncertain terms and as succinctly as possible, that an ocean of tears cried during the thousands of ceremonies on Holocaust Remembrance Day about what was done to the Jewish people between the years 1933 and 1945 will not ensure that a similar fate will not await the State of Israel.
If all we are willing to do is to talk about the past, than talk is cheap and the public calls for the destruction of the State of Israel will grow and become louder day by day, lending normalcy to this expectation.
If we are to give any real meaning by embedding these events in the consciousness of the world, it cannot be done outside of the context of the ongoing global campaign to continue a murderous assault on the Jewish people and the State of Israel. The global dissonance that enables acknowledgement of the Holocaust alongside calls for the annihilation of Israel cannot and should not be tolerated.
There are many in the Jewish world who do not take the phenomenon seriously and say 'anti-Semitism has always existed in some form or another, and yet, look how far we've come,". Others believe that this phenomenon will disappear as soon as a peace agreement is signed by Israel and her neighbors; they should realize that it will not stop and it will not subside.
Those who believe it will disappear should take notice of the inconceivable increase in the number of North American campuses where significant anti-Israel activity takes place. They should ask themselves how it is that within just a few years, more than 50 leading universities in the US began marking "Israel Apartheid Week," which is characterized by hatred, lies, anti-Semitism, and calls for the annihilation of the Jewish State of Israel - just prior to Holocaust Memorial Day.
To truly understand this Jewish tendency to tolerate those that want to destroy us, we only must go back two weeks to Pesach. One of the better-known customs at the Passover seder is to spill out drops of wine while praising God for inflicting upon the Egyptians the miraculous Ten Plagues. The conventional explanation printed in most Haggadahs, whatever their religious orientation, is that each drop represents a symbolic tear for those who suffered at the time of the Exodus, including the Egyptians.
As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes, "We may be uplifted from an event because it represents the triumph of justice, while at the same time identifying with the suffering of the victims." This interpretation, which originated in the 13th century, is frequently cited along with a talmudic passage in which God berates the celestial angels for wanting to sing Hallel (hymns of praise) while his creatures, the Egyptians, perish in the sea (Megilla 10b). According to some sources, this is the reason why the Bible does not call Passover "a time of joy" and why Jews do not recite a full celebratory Hallel service after the first day of the festival (Pesikta De-Rav Kahane). As the verse in Proverbs states, "When your enemy falters do not rejoice and when he stumbles do not feel glee, lest God notice and disapprove and avert His anger from him." (24:17-18)
As the volume of calls for the annihilation of the Jewish State of Israel increases day by day, alongside the growing acknowledgment of the Holocaust, we in Israel and supporters of Israel throughout the world, Jews and non Jews must end this global dissonance and expose if for what it is, a transparent attempt to normalize the calls for Israel's annihilation. Lets not forget similar calls for the destruction of the Jews prior to World War II. while during the same period enabled Jews to reach the pinnacle of European Society.