The Jews are the most persecuted people on earth.
But on the day that the world woke up, it was too late. 6 million had already been executed by ordinary people, under the instruction of a few Nazi ‘elites’.
Upon waking up from its slumber the world vowed ‘never again’.
But if the human race was vowing to ‘never again’ stand by while genocides were committed, we failed.
The loss of life in Rwanda, Bosnia and Cambodia was rightly remembered as part of Holocaust Memorial Day commemorations yesterday.
Anti Semitism itself started long before Hitler. In fact it even started before the year 0. And it almost goes without saying that today, hatred of the Jews continues to outlive Hitler’s existence.
Ahmadinejad urges Muslim world to unite to destroy Zionism. Those who keep up with Middle East news would be forgiven for thinking this is an old headline. But no, the President of Iran has again been attacking Jewish rights. He made his latest comments on Holocaust Memorial Day.
Here in the UK, member of Parliament David Ward used the week of Holocaust Memorial to criticise “Jews” for ”inflicting atrocities on Palestinians… on a daily basis”, saying that “everyone” needs to learn the lessons of the Holocaust. He was later forced to apologise.
The Sunday Times went one step further than Ward, daring to publish an anti-Semitic cartoon on Holocaust Memorial Day itself.
Europe in general looks bleak. There’s a rise in anti-Semitism again – see this recent study.
What is illegal in the first generation, is tolerated in the second, and celebrated in the third. This progression can be seen in both positive and negative aspects of society.
Homosexuality was illegal in my grandparents generation, it was tolerated and legalised in my parents generation Now in my generation it is celebrated and gay pride events are common and well attended.
Black people were once second class citizens in Western nations. In the next generation, the law was well on the way to implementing basic human rights. By the third generation, multiculturalism in all its forms was (and is today) celebrated.
Society’s attitudes can very quickly change, for good…but also for ill.
Imagine a world where anti-Semitism was tolerated. Where hatred of the Jews was a part of society.
(Where world renown newspapers would publish anti-Semitic cartoons and elected parliamentary representatives could single out “the Jews”. - Could we be there already?)
Is that a world you want to live in?
It’s time to sound the warning. Anti-Semitism is rising. It’s being tolerated – which is bad enough. But imagine the next generation growing up in a world where they wouldn’t just ‘get away’ with anti-Semitic remarks – but such rhetoric was actively encouraged?
What you tolerate in this generation, will become celebrated in the next.
The Holocaust is not a past problem, it will be a present reality unless we stand up. This is not sensationalism. This is a genuine warning. Trouble is ahead if we remain on our present course.
Remember that the soldiers at Auschwitz saw what was going on. They were normal people with families.
The people who turned-in their Jewish neighbours to the authorities in the 1930s were normal people with families.
The people who allowed the Church to stand by and do nothing were normal people with families. There were notable exceptions, but for the most part the people who inherited a Jewish holy book about a Jewish Messiah didn’t help the Jews.
The words of the famous poem ring loud…
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
The onus is on us all to live with the words “those who forget history are destined to repeat it” in the back of our minds.
I’m thankful that so much of the world now recognises the need to have a Holocaust Memorial Day annually.
We must never forget. But even more importantly, when we say ‘never again’ we must mean it.
How do we mean it? Easy. We don’t just say it.
We stand up when MPs cross the line and when newspapers publish outrageous cartoons.
So here I am, sounding the alarm. Anti-Semitism is on the rise. It takes many forms, but wherever I see it, I vow never to tolerate it. Who’s with me?