The Holocaust has been overblown. This is a blunt and worrying belief expressed by one third of Americans according to a new study released by a Jewish organization ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day next month. Minimizing the impact of such an atrocity is not only attributed to the masses, but also to some leaders such as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro who recently said on this subject, “We can forgive, but we cannot forget.” Beyond the headlines, the current situation reminds us that if we want to avoid history repeating itself, we should not forget our role: to unite and spread this example of unity to the rest of the world.
Lack of awareness about the murder of six million Jews under the Third Reich is growing. Sixty-six percent of US millennials have no idea what Auschwitz was and represents based on this report. Humanity has a short-term memory. Consequently, anti-Semitism keeps reappearing, constantly mutating in Europe and America, from the right and from the left. It is manifested not only through hate speech but also as physical attacks, swastikas drawn on Jewish homes, and vandalism in cemeteries and Jewish shops. Violence against Jews is at an all-time high in major cities like New York, Berlin, and Paris. It is only a matter of time before the next painful incident erupts.
According to Kabbalah, anti-Semitism is a law of nature. When we, the Jews, are separated and distant from one another, we create a negative force in the world, which transforms itself in anti-Semitic expressions and actions. On the other hand, when we unite over conflicts and differences of opinion, a positive force spreads in the world that can do wonders.
Therefore, the irrational hatred that is getting stronger today reminds us the hard way that we have a role we cannot ignore: to unite and spread this example of unity to the rest of the world. Even though we would be happy to avoid this task, it is impossible. It is our destiny; we have been chosen to illuminate unity among the nations through our unity as a people. As it is written, “If a person takes a bundle of reeds, he cannot break them all at once. But taken one at a time, even an infant will break them. Just so, Israel will not be redeemed until they are all one bundle” (Midrash Tanhuma, Nitzavim, Chapter 1).
It is thus no coincidence that we thrived against all odds to fulfill a specific role. We are a nation that carries within itself the ideal of love for all people of the world. We became a nation based on the rule of “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and only the return to the realization of this principle can eradicate the bigotry and hatred toward us. As Rav Yehuda Ashlag (Baal HaSulam) wrote, “the Israeli nation was to be a ‘transition’ … they pass their power on to the rest of the nations” (“The Love for the Creator and Love for the Created Beings”). Attaining unity and passing it on to humanity is what world leaders and people everywhere expect and demand from us. We shall not forget.