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Rebeca Permuth de Sabbagh

New survivors and survivors anew

January 27th: International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

As a teenager, I grew up with the angst that one day due to natural causes, there would be no survivors left of the Holocaust, of the Shoah. I felt a void as I learned that survivors were passing away in different countries around the world. Selfishly, I wanted the world to always have them among us, as a living reminder to humanity of the dangers of hatred and antisemitism.

As the day without survivors of the Nazi genocide became imminent, heartbreakingly we witnessed a new generation of Jewish genocide survivors emerge: those of the pogrom executed by Hamas in Israel on 7/10. I use the term genocide in the context of its legal definition, encompassing acts perpetrated with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, in whole or in part.

Hitler detailed in “Mein Kampf” his desire to eradicate Jews from the world. Hamas, in its charter, states that its goal is the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of Jews. The genocidal manifesto is explicit in both cases. An incomprehensible difference: the Nazis documented their atrocities but wanted to hide what happened; however, at the end of the war, the free world fought to expose the truth. Hamas, on the contrary, boasts about its crimes, but many useful fools seek to deny the atrocities for them. The terrorists are proud of their sadism and brutality—how come they don’t understand something so basic at Harvard? Don’t they hear that after the call for “death to Israel,” they shout just as loudly “death to America”?

I feared the day without Shoah survivors, never imagining that an even darker reality would come before that. Those who survived the Holocaust deserved to leave this world with the hope that what they experienced would not be repeated, but humanity had other plans for them. Some survived the Nazis but not Hamas, and others (luckily?) survived both. After 7/10, this new generation of Jewish genocide survivors came about in the place where we thought we were safest and that it couldn’t happen again: on Israeli territory.

Just as the Allies in World War II did not stop until they destroyed the Nazis, Israel will not stop until it eliminates Hamas. It will do so with its soldiers fighting in Gaza, with its ambassadors of truth on social media, and now with its lawyers at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, facing the unfounded genocide accusation promoted by South Africa. If Israel had the intention of committing genocide or even defending itself without respect for the lives of Palestinian civilians, it would have done so already, as it has the military capability. However, Israel has taken care of the lives of Palestinian civilians at the expense of the lives of its own soldiers, even when so many of them sickly rejoiced after Israelis were massacred in the most brutal way. The irony of this latest front in The Hague is that, among other countries (including Guatemala), Germany has clearly expressed support for Israel, thereby honoring a historical debt by reminding the world what genocide truly means.

This January 27th, I pay tribute to those who were murdered solely for being Jews, both in World War II and on 7/10. My pain and solidarity goes out to the new survivors and the survivors anew.

Never again is now.

About the Author
Attorney at Law in Guatemala, Harvard Law School LLM, Honorary President of the Jewish Community of Guatemala.
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