By Danielle Sobkin (The University of California Berkeley), Jeremy Davis (The Ohio State University)
“Never Again” is more than a slogan or a catchphrase. It is a solemn vow, a promise born from the ashes of one of humanity’s most heinous atrocities, the Holocaust. It was a time when six million Jews and countless other innocent victims were systematically exterminated in concentration camps. The Holocaust was not a single violent act but an eradication of culture, history, families, and futures.
“Never Again” is a reflection on this dark chapter of history, but it is also a forward-looking pledge. The notion is a constant reminder of the depths to which humanity can sink when prejudice, hatred, and indifference are allowed to fester. But more than that, “Never Again” is a commitment to vigilance, ensuring that such abomination is remembered and actively countered.
The importance of “Never Again” lies in its historical context and universal appeal. It is a call to remember and to act, a reminder that history — when forgotten or ignored — has a terrifying tendency to repeat itself.
While “Never Again” is rooted in historical events, recent events remind us of its contemporary significance. It is distressing to witness events that seem to be ripped straight from the pages of a dark past occurring in the present day. The declaration of a “national jihad day,” overt calls of aggression against Jews, and synagogues set ablaze – all within the past two weeks – are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of a global surge in antisemitism that has reached alarming proportions. Jewish day schools have shut their doors and moved studies online due to fears of impending attacks. Synagogues across the country resorted to unprecedented safety measures. The once welcoming atmosphere now requires an active police presence, stemming from a palpable fear of aggression and terror.
The situation is bleak on college campuses, as well. Jewish students, who should be immersed in their studies and forging new memories, now live in an environment of fear and uncertainty. Established Jewish institutions like Hillel, Chabad, fraternity, and sorority houses are under fire from campus discrimination. An unknown detractor vandalized the University of Pennsylvania Hillel “shouting antisemitic obscenities about Jewish people.” In fact, close to 60% of Jewish college students witnessed or experienced some form of antisemitism. Appeals for moral clarity and improved protection for Jewish students are met with deafening silence by university administrations.
No Jew remains insulated from this rising tide of hatred. The global Jewish community, bound by faith and history, now shares a collective anxiety about the future. This time isn’t the distant past; this hour is our harrowing present.
When we say “Never Again,” it is not just a cry echoing the sentiments of generations past. It is a desperate plea for the present, a call to action for everyone, regardless of faith or background. Whether you’re Jewish or not, this issue should alarm you. This issue isn’t only about the safety and well-being of Jewish students; it’s about the very structure of our society. We choose a dangerous future if we allow such overt hatred to go unchecked.
When we witness antisemitism, it isn’t just the Jewish community at risk. It’s a warning sign that intolerance is gaining ground. Hatred towards the Jews does not end with the Jews. Today, it’s the Jewish people; tomorrow, it could be any other minority or ethnic group. When the social fabric of society tears, the ramifications extend far beyond one community. Hatred threatens the cohesive existence of our pluralistic societies. Prominently displayed on the final exhibition in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. are the following words:
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me. —Martin Niemöller
One of the most egregious crimes of the Holocaust remains the disinterest and apathy towards the plight of others. The all-too-familiar human passivity echoes the gravity of indifference, a lack of individual and collective courage, and a failure to stand firm during times of great moral crisis.
If you are frightened, anxious, and wary of the future, now is the time to take action. Learn about antisemitism, how it originates, why it continues to grow, how it manifests today, and how to act proactively against such evil. There is never a good time to remain silent about antisemitism. Be strong. Engage in civil dialogue. Develop relationships. Learn from others. Take positive action. As Rabbi Hillel wisely declared, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? If not now, when?”
The phrase “Never Again” confronts us with a chilling immediacy. As stark realities unfold before our eyes, we are forced to confront an unsettling truth: the horror of the Holocaust is not confined to the dusty pages of history books; it’s happening again right now — in lecture halls, on social media, and in discourse worldwide. We can’t let this moment slip through our fingers — never again we promised, now we must act. The potency of words lies in their meaning, and the sanctity of a promise rests upon its fulfillment. It’s been 78 years since the horrors of the Holocaust, 78 years of the promise “Never Again”. Yet, the commitment to this promise is tested with each passing day, and the essence of these words is weighed against the reality of action and the gravity of consequence. The time to fortify the promise of “Never Again” is not tomorrow, but today.