Every Yom Hashoah, my heart stops. The sirens blare in Israel, the country stands still, and my stomach drops as I see the horror before my eyes. Scenes of grandparents sent to the gas chambers, young men forced into slave labor, young women raped and abused, children experimented on in laboratories, and babies burning and burning in ditches of fire.
The Holocaust was the darkest period of Jewish history and for seven decades we have tried our hardest to educate ourselves and others about the atrocities committed against us.
And while we have made headway in certain parts of the world (and among certain populations), it is an undeniable fact that anti-Semitism is on the rise. We must make Holocaust education a priority. We owe much that to our grandparents and our grandchildren alike.
However, an increasing problem that I have noticed is within Holocaust education itself.
Countless speeches and programs by primarily liberal and left-wing groups are eager to use the Holocaust to promote tolerance and acceptance of all people, something that everyone should support. There is no doubt that Holocaust education must include the universal principles of justice and tolerance because if not, history is bound to repeat itself; if not with Jews than with another marginalized group.
The problem, however, is when Holocaust education is only about humanist principles, with no reference to the Jewish people who were the primary targets of the Nazi regime. What makes this trend all the more frustrating is that the very people and organizations who ignore the Jewish nature of the Holocaust are the same ones that often do not support Israel and her right to exist. It is unjust to appropriate Jewish tragedy for a cause while simultaneously fighting against the welfare and dignity of that tragedy’s survivors.
On this Holocaust Memorial Day, let’s not forget the Jews.