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The day ‘Never Again’ became an empty slogan

How can we feel safe when protesters on college campuses called for the complete eradication of the Jewish State?
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather on the UCLA campus Wednesday, May 1, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ethan Swope)
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather on the UCLA campus Wednesday, May 1, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ethan Swope)

My parents were both Holocaust survivors from Poland. My father, Moshe, lost three children and his first wife. My mother Malka’s 2-year-old son died in the Kozienice ghetto of hunger and illness. They both rose extraordinarily from the ashes, rebuilt their lives, marrying and bearing three children (including me), nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. They felt they defeated Jewish hate and persecution by reaffirming life and rebuilding the destroyed Jewish people.

Today, I can honestly say I’m glad they’re not alive to witness the resurgence of hate and violence towards Jews. As shocking as that may sound, 79 years after my parents were liberated, it’s as if the world has forgotten. Each year on Yom Hashoah or International Holocaust Remembrance Day slogans like “We Remember” and “Never Again” are plastered on Facebook and Instagram pages, but this year these slogans are empty.

On October 7th, the deadliest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, we were under the illusion that finally, the world understood how rabid Jew hatred could make Never Again happen again. The slogan turned into Never Again is Now. The comedian, Yohai Sponder in his dark stand-up routine, made reference to the breach of the promise Never Again to the killing of Jews, quipping that perhaps we should recoin the phrase and say Never Ever Ever Ever Again!

How can we feel safe when only a few short weeks after Oct 7, college campuses erupted with anti-Jewish, anti-Israel protests calling for the complete eradication of the Jewish State (From the River to the Sea)? My Alma Mater, UCLA, a bastion of Jewish and Zionist activism in the ’80s has turned into a cesspool of bigotry with students, faculty and outside agitators spewing hate speech and calling for the destruction of Israel.

There are many explanations of how and why this transpired, including the systematic funding of pro-Palestinian faculty and academic departments by Arab states. I recall this from my days as a political science student when the Near Eastern Studies department had a strong Arabist tone including maps of the Middle East in which Israel was nonexistent. When asked why the map didn’t have Israel on it, the response was always that “it is not culturally part of the Middle East,” it’s a Western “European” creation.

Pro-Palestinian protesters pray on the UCLA campus Wednesday, May 1, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

In other words, the people and the culture are not indigenous to the area.

On Yom Hashoah 2024, our hearts are heavy, Jews around the world again face attacks and discrimination.

Natan Sharansky, who suffered antisemitism in the Soviet Union before he became a leader in Israel, uses the criteria he’s dubbed “the three Ds” as a test for antisemitism: 

  1. Delegitimizing or denying the Jewish people our right to self-determination
  2. Demonizing Jews by portraying us as evil or blowing Israel’s actions out of sensible proportion
  3. Subjecting Israel to double standards

The world has forgotten the lessons of the Holocaust and we must remind it. We must shout from every rooftop that never again will we be silent or indifferent in the face of evil. We looked deep into the face of evil and inhumanity too many times – and that is without a doubt what we are experiencing once again. One-hundred and thirty-two hostages being held in Gaza by Hamas is evil and inhumane; the violence against Jews throughout the world is evil. 

In the words of Steven Spielberg: “We see every day how the machinery of extremism is being used on college campuses… Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. And I am increasingly alarmed that we may be condemned to repeat history, to once again have to fight for the very right to be Jewish.”

About the Author
Tova Dorfman is the President of the World Zionist Organization.