We Remember the Holocaust, But We Go On
During the Shoah, a darkness descended upon the earth the likes of which have rarely been seen in the history of humankind. Irrespective of how many years pass, the monstrosity of the Shoah never lessens and as a people whose history is always with us, no matter how far removed in time, the Shoah, which happened only 70 years ago, a blink in history, is a very recent gaping wound.
On Thursday morning, the siren sounded and Israel came to a standstill in the memory of the 6 million who are no longer with us, but who remain a part of us, the Jewish people, for all time, never forgotten. The more Europe wishes to forget that the Shoah was perpetrated by Europeans on European soil, the more we will remember and speak out. Especially now, when the sentiments of the 1930s, which ultimately led to the brutal and industrialized murder of 6 million Jews, flourish like never before since the end of World War II, and when the demonization of Jews in the guise of “anti-Zionism” has reached new heights.
In several places in Europe, such as Sweden and the Netherlands, where the lessons of the Holocaust have been lost on so many and where it needs to be commemorated more than ever, memorial events such as the Kristallnacht remembrance have become morbid political manifestations against Israel, where Jews are unwanted and where the Israeli flag is considered a provocation. In fact, if the Israeli flag is indeed displayed on such an occasion it has more likely than not been daubed with a swastika.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is commemorated on Jan. 27, has also been diluted in some places, by adding a number of other genocides to that day, almost as if it is too much for Europeans to bear that the destruction of 6 million Jews should have its own, exclusive day. In Denmark, the day was marked under the theme “Active Citizenship” and events and activities throughout the country “put a special focus to the concept and practice of active citizenship, which can lead to discussions on human rights issues, inclusion and discrimination.”
Except the Shoah was not about “human rights issues, inclusion and discrimination.” It was about a European obsession to murder every last Jew. In the light of the current European obsession of demonizing Israel, it would be more proper for Europeans to be learning why the negative obsession with Jews persists.
There can be little doubt that the Shoah is not seen as a unique phenomenon in many places in Europe. I will never forget how one of my lecturers at the London School of Economics and Political Science told his class that the Holocaust did not constitute “anything special” in the history of humankind. It was just one event among many, signaling that Jews are just annoying for making it out to be a special tragedy. Of course, dismissing it as such makes it so much easier to reduce it to oblivion, which I assume was his point to begin with.
There is something peculiar and deeply sinister about the post-imperialistic guilt that pervades the European elites toward just about any Third World country that ever experienced a touch of European colonialism, while there is not an inkling of post-Holocaust guilt toward the Jews, who were — and still are, for as long as that lasts — citizens of Europe.
Whatever Europe will decide to make of Holocaust remembrance in the future, it is becoming unquestionable that the chapter of Jewish history is closing fast in Europe, never to return. As the late Professor Robert Wistrich said: “The Jews should get out now when they can. … Which rational person who cares about their Jewish identity and what will happen to their children, will want to continue in the same way [in Europe]?” This from the most eminent scholar of anti-Semitism, who himself — rightly — refused to draw any parallels between now and then.
In Israel, we mourn, we remember, and we teach our children to do the same, as we do with everything in our history, both the good and the bad. But once the mourning is over, we waste no time in rejoicing over the fact that we are as far removed as possible from those horrible days, back then, in our own beautiful country, masters of our own destinies. It is this joy, which fuels the effort never to despair over the security situation and the many challenges, but to forge ahead and celebrate life. We may remember the past, but we are certainly not stuck in it. We have lives to live.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.