Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lessons from the Holocaust

holorememToday is the 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 to take a hold of society again.

But I always wonder about this… is it only today we are supposed to go around making flowery speeches about world love and peace and 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, bills 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 from the year to remember this world’s largest genocide. Today I take the time to think about the victims, and the atrocities they faced. However, it shouldn’t only be today 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.


  1. Hail, I forgot how much I love to read your blog! Thanks for the new post--Well put!!! I love you!

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  3. I most certainly agree with your sentiment but I feel that you are a tad naive in your approach. The archaic and largely outdated Jewish law which has become entwined with large swaths of Israeli society and is still practicsed among many IS racist, prejuidiced, sexist, misogynistic and many other things. All of which culminate in a group of people that feel that they are better or above many others. Not forgetting that one of the tenets of Judaism is to be "or la'goyim" (a light unto the nations) embedded in this idea is the fact that Jews's are better.

    The question remains then, how, amid such a culture (which admitedly many are trying to throw off but still afflicts many sectors of our society) can we, as a nation, put this hatred and discrimination out of our hearts? This is a difficult question and one that cannot be answered in one breath. However, I believe that it starts on the individual level, if you and I and others dont stand for the sort of prejudice and discrimination we may encounter then maybe slowly we can reform our society too.