The Shoah belongs to the Jews

Yom Hashoah is the day we reclaim the Holocaust

Everyone wants a piece of the Holocaust action. Being a member of a victimised minority is all the rage these days, so it was probably inevitable that many, green with envy that the Jews had suffered the greatest victimisation in history, would seek to wrest the ownership of Holocaust memory from Jewish hands.

When Tony Blair declared UK Holocaust Memorial Day in 2001, I let out a cry of anguish,  sure as I was that the remembrance would soon become a flaccid remembrance of “man’s inhumanity to man”, reducing the horrors  of the Holocaust to a list of platitudes . Actually, the remembrance, marked each year in  January,  is defined as “a  national commemoration day in the United Kingdom dedicated to the remembrance of those who suffered in The Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution, and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur”. So, from the very beginning, this was not only about the Shoah, but rather a generic remembrance of mans’ propensity to massacre his fellow human beings.  Even so, not everyone was pleased. Between 2001 and 2007, the Muslim Council of Britain expressed its unwillingness to participate, claiming that it “totally excludes and ignores the ongoing genocide and violation of Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere”. In addition they objected to the fact that “It includes the controversial question of alleged Armenian genocide as well as the so-called gay genocide.” In short, they didn’t like the list of included genocides, taking the opportunity to deny the existence of one genocide (Armenian) and  invent another (Palestinian).  Not a great act of unity.

Thus, the attempt to wrest the memory of the Holocaust from the hands of the Jews was well underway even before, a few years later,  the United Nations declared International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Things went downhill from then on. Annoyed that the suffering of the Jews were now given an international stage, the far-left stepped in with multiple arguments to downgrade the Jewish nature of the Holocaust.

There are several ways the “progressively” minded do this, as evidenced by a thousand Tweets. Firstly, we are constantly reminded that there were others who were killed in Auschwitz;  Roma, Homosexuals, disabled people, political dissidents.  In other words, there was nothing specifically Jewish about Nazi concentration camps. Such diminishers of Jewish suffering  ignore the fact that the Final Solution, the industrial process of genocide, was designed for Jews. The tragedy of non-Jewish deaths is no less, but we should remember that the concentration camps and gas chambers were built for the Jews. That the ever efficient Nazis used this infrastructure of death to murder other undesirables, does not alter that fact that the Nazi aim was primarily to make the Jews extinct. One could see this as an horrific  example of “What starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews”.

An additional way our detractors downgrade the  Shoah is to accuse the Jewish state of being as bad as the Nazis.  Thus the lie that Israel has committed genocide against the Palestinians is now repeated ad nauseum on social media. The conclusion:  if Jews also commit genocide, they are undeserving of sympathy for their own alleged suffering.

Now  coming into fashion is the somewhat bizarre accusation that Jews  “privilege the Holocaust”. Quite how you privilege genocide is beyond me, but the intention is clear, we  manipulative Jews are using our victimhood for  malefactions  purposes. I think we are going to hear this more and more, for privilege is now the new number one evil, jostling with racism for the top spot. There have been many a Twitter discussion as to whether Jews, with such a history of repression,  benefit from “White Privilege” The general consensus is that we do. The most extreme example of this is the contention that the Holocaust  was “White on White” crime, so not of concern to progressive thinking people. A more compromising piece of nonsense was that Jews, if not automatically recipients of “White Privilege”, at least have access to it. No, I don’t understand that either.

So on this Yom Hashoah, I’ll wipe away a tear as I think about the 36 members of my grandfather’s extended family who were murdered in Auschwitz, about the six million Jewish men, women and children who perished, and  the communities wiped from the face of the earth. This is the Jewish day of remembrance, and on this, our day, we need justify to no-one our right to mourn.

Yom Hashoah falls on the date that the Warsaw Uprising began, when the Jews struggled to regain control of their destiny against our oppressor. The international Holocaust Remembrance Day falls on the day when allied troops arrived at the gates of Auschwitz. The symbolism of the dates should not escape us — we Jews celebrate our attempts, doomed as they were, to fight back against our oppressor. The world celebrates its role in the liberation of those few who survived.

 So, am I privileged to be beget of my parents’ generation, who picked up the pieces of their shattered lives and created a Jewish homeland? Am I privileged to honour the dead, and to learn a life-affirming  message of resilience from  those who carried on?  You bet I am, and I’ll access  my privilege (whatever the hue) as much as I damn well please.

About the Author
Moshe Forman is a British-Israeli novelist and technical writer. He was the chairperson of the Union of Jewish Students of the UK and Eire, later working in Israel as a TV news cameraperson, before becoming a technical writer for some of Israel’s leading hi-tech companies. He recently published his first novel, "Quench and Wendy in the Land of Shovan" - an epic fantasy.
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