One of the things that I like about living in Israel is not constantly needing to mince words, all the time being scared to provoke attacks by Gentiles.
Having said that, I must add that this freedom to think and liberty to speak our minds as Jews should be coupled with being responsible about what we say, because Jews in the Diaspora may suffer repercussion from any careless words by us. However, this is certainly not the same feeling as always walking on egg shells that I remember from living in The Netherlands.
On this Holocaust Remembrance Day 2017 from Jerusalem, let me praise our PM Netanyahu for (again) pointing out, without hatred and without bitterness, another thing that needs to be said to Gentiles. Just very recently, it has become clear that the Allied Administrations already in 1942 knew full well that Jews were literally being exterminated in concentration camps in Nazi occupied Europe. How beautiful that the political head of the Jewish State has not shied away or delayed speaking out about this (tape: 31:55-46:30).
I just need to add four points of nuance. Yet, shockingly, these details make his historical rebuke even more biting, not less!
1. People versus administration. I was very moved to hear US airplane pilots who run bombing raids on Nazi factories close to Auschwitz ask permission to bomb the concentration camp too. Their request was denied, which showed that the regular chap who risked his life fighting the Nazis did not have this anti-Jewish streak. As so often, even nowadays, sentiments against Jews run the strongest in the higher echelons of society. The people who are trained to speak so politely, not seldom use that talent to camouflage their hatred against the Old People. Working Class people might say rude things, but since they are upfront, one can help them throw out their prejudices, and embrace their fellow Jews – most of whom are Working Class too – and help them being loyal to their fellow Jews.
2. In the rightful piercing criticism about the indifference for Jewish suffering that cost the lives of probably 4,000,000 Jews, not forgotten should be that thousands of Allied troupes have risked and given their lives to free the world of Nazi domination from in Europe. D-day should stand out, but also the major sacrifices by Russian soldiers should not be forgotten. How bitter though, that no sacrifice was too large to get Nazi rule down, but every sacrifice apparently was too big for stopping genocide on Jews.
3. Allied callousness not just showed in not bombing the death camps, but also in almost total immigration blockades to the US, Palestine, and the whole Western world. Even after the Holocaust, Jewish survivors were largely unwelcome everywhere, it seems. Even supporting the founding of the Jewish State Israel in 1948, seems a way for the Western world to do away with the Jews. Either the Arab armies would get them into the sea or not, but at least, they should not defile the Christian hemisphere more than they did already.
4. In contrast, in many countries in Asia, Jews were most welcome. It was a real pity that in the world of the Thirties and Forties of the previous Century, this was not widely known. Also now, this national hospitality is much too much neglected, possibly too because it make Western hostility towards Jewish refugees look even worse. Look how many Jews were absorbed and saved in The Philippines (1,300), China (18,000), Kyrgyzstan (45,000), Uzbekistan (339,250), Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tazhikistan, and Turkmenistan (430,750).
Last but not least, modern Germany has shown that national repentance is possible, even for the worst of crimes. No one talks about forgiving or forgetting. Rather, one may acknowledge a horrible past and resolve never to go there again.
Just now, at last, proof has been found for the Armenian Holocaust. (The word Holocaust should be reserved for the Nazi genocide on the Jews. I make an exception here, because it was the Armenian genocide that encouraged Hitler. When those around him said: you won’t get away with murdering a whole people, he replied: O no? Who still speaks of the massacre on the Armenians? Every school child in Israel’s curriculum learns this.) Turkey should follow Germany’s example. Which would not mean that it should declare itself to be a nation of monsters. Quite the opposite! Turks should take responsibility to distance themselves from a monstrous past. Not from all national pride in their history – just from the part that stinks.
But not just Turkey. The whole of the Western world need to acknowledge what went wrong vis-à-vis the Jews and become our true friends and Allies in deeper ways. Some have been and are close to us, but they have largely been exceptions, except in the US where friendship with Jews seems the default attitude.
May the new clarity of deep Allied complicity with the Holocaust help Gentiles in the Western world to further distance themselves from indifference for Jewish life and demand safety for Jews everywhere. That is the only way for non-Jews to really feel good about themselves, just like a man can only feel good if he commits to always stand up to any Sexism (even his own), and White people only can look themselves in the eye when they will not tolerate Racism any longer.