For the past few years, the World Jewish Congress has launched a campaign designed to encourage people to remember one of the darkest moments in the history of human-kind: the Holocaust.
Millions of people around the world, from school-children to politicians, actors or sports-people, together with survivors and families of those murdered have joined each year, spreading the message of this campaign of remembrance. And joining this effort is .. no effort at all:“use the hashtag #WeRemember on social media and share content dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust. Post a photo of yourself holding a paper containing the text #WeRemember. Ask other to do the same.”
And yet…we see some cold-facts:
- Studies show that many people do NOT know the basics of what happened and how that was possible,
- Current events (coupled with many other atrocities, since 1945) show that the world does not learn from the tragedies of the past,
- The memory of the victims of the Shoah is constantly under attack. We saw people denying that the Holocaust ever happened (oh, how we wish that was the case!) or minimalizing and trivializing it (I remember a campaign on behalf of stray dogs – comparing their terrible fate, with that of our relatives being massacred by the Nazis and their collaborators, across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East).
What happened over the last 3 years is particularly shocking to those of us who’ve studied history, to those focused on combating antisemitism in particular. We always knew that peaks in socio-economic tension lead to an exacerbation of Jew-hatred. Why? When people have doubts about their present and future, about their very existence – the ultimate fall-guy, the “reason” behind their woes – was always “the Jew”. And, over the last decades, also the Jewish State. Sometimes in a strange parallel dance between the two, sometimes one in isolation (eg. The extreme-right usually doesn’t include Israel in their list of “demons”, while the extreme-left usually doesn’t include “the individual Jew”, or the “local-Jew” in theirs).
From one extreme to the other, sometimes in tandem with Islamist-extremists –denying that the Shoah existed is usually done as a precursor to incitement against living Jews (the survivors, because we’re all survivors: if the Nazis Final Solution would have worked all the way through – none of us would be here today).
So, we fight for the memory of the victims of the Holocaust (and for the remembering what mechanisms led to it) and against antisemitism for two reasons:
- Because it’s right and we hope all non-Jewish people of conscience will join us (ideally, without any prompts from us)
- Because those lessons would have stopped many of the ills of today
Antisemitism has played a large part in the malign campaigns run by state actors, during the 3 years of the pandemic (and let’s hope it ends this year) and other major events of the last year.
Enough is enough!
No, not for us, Jews. We’ve learnt our lessons, primarily that we need to (sadly, if you think about it) rely firstly on ourselves and that we could always, in any country, become victims, unless…
Anywhere (and we see that in countries of Europe and Eurasia, in parts of the Islamic world or in the Americas), where governments or political parties rely on hatred-of-the-Jew as a means to controlling society and pushing for political gains: you’re leading yourselves into the abyss. Stop, before it’s too late. It’s for your own sake, for the future of your children and grandchildren. Build a society where they can live, without being ashamed of your deeds.
Read, learn and remember! We do. #WeRemember