For over seven decades, on Yom Hashoah- Holocaust Remembrance Day, people pause to reflect on the mass murder of 6,000,000 Jews, a genocide conceived, organized and executed by Hitler’s Third Reich.
Two words sum up the silent pleas from the ashes of the victims and those who survived the Shoah: “Never Again.”
But let’s be honest. In 2016, the operative term is “ever”, not “Never Again.”
What lessons from the Nazi Holocaust has the U.S. or other nations applied to stop the ethnic cleansing of Iraqi Christians, the genocide of Yazidis, the gassing of civilians and targeting of hospitals in Syria, the Boko Haram outrages in Nigeria?
And what about ISIS? While we still might get around to destroying ISIS’ physical Caliphate and the tens of thousands of their terrorist troops, they have in a sense, already won. They have succeeded in changing humanity’s terrain—and not for the better.
Seventy years ago, in the 20th Century, the Nazis attempted to hide their genocidal agenda. Now, in the 21st Century ISIS shouts it from the rooftops.
In 2016, Islamist terrorists openly boast about the mass rapes and beheadings; they leverage social media and send out millions of tweets to broadcast the final moments of their doomed victims, simultaneously instilling fear around the world, while recruiting young Muslims around the world with their heroin-strength, theologically-driven hate.
Any world leader who actually believed in Never Again would never have allowed the global menace of Islamist jihadists to gain such traction.
For Jews, Never Again meant the hope that after the Shoah, our people would never have to stand alone; that we could rely on a coalition of democratic European nations, led by the children of those who suffered Nazi invasion and occupation along with the children of the perpetrators the crimes against humanity, who understood the historic responsibility of post-war Germany to stand as a bulwark against history’s oldest hate.
The bitter reality on the streets of European capitals today is that Jews are no longer safe. They are leaving by the thousands, not only because of terrorists but also because too few of their fellow-citizens care.
Elsewhere where millions of Jews perished during the Shoah, xenophobic politicians from Poland to Lithuania to Hungary brazenly whitewash their history and erase Jewish martyrdom to suit their extremist agendas.
And then there are the Ken Livingstones of the world. They are all too happy to invoke Hitler, Swastikas and Nazis, so long as they can smear “Zionists.”
Perfectly timed for the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the former mayor of London asserted that Hitler was a supporter of Zionism! When and Jews and the political opposition raised a ruckus, Piers Corbyn, the brother of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn remarked that there was ‘too much sensitivity’ surrounding anti-Semitism. All this as some 50 Labour politicians were suspended after their anti-Semitic sentiments were reported on social media. They need not be too worried, for Mr. Corbyn counts Hamas terrorists among his friends.
Never Again indeed!
It would be useful if that gaggle of Labour anti-Semites visited the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance. There they would read a four-page letter that Hitler typed and personally signed in 1919- twenty years before WWII! In it he describes his hatred of Jews and outlines his plans calling for, “The uncompromising removal of the Jews altogether,” which, he says, can only be accomplished, “Under a government of National strength and never under a government of National Impotence.” Hitler warns against an “emotional anti-Semitism which will always find it expression in the form of pogroms” and seeks rather “a legal…removal of the rights of the Jew.”
Hitler taught us to take every demagogue at their word. That is why we say Never Again to anti-Semitism/anti-Zionism. That is why a strong and safe Israel is so important to Jews the world over.
So what should Americans be doing this Yom HaShoah?
First, if you know an aging Holocaust survivor—give them a hug and if needed, a helping hand. Each is a national treasure, a beacon of hope in a world gone mad.
Second. We must never tire in protesting the mass murders, the mass rapes, the growing online culture of hate.
Americans are deeply divided and we have entered stormy and unchartered waters in our society and political landscape. Still we must find a bipartisan voice on human rights and wrongs. Everyone, from left-leaning progressives to arch social conservatives should demand that the next occupant of the White House make Never Again more than a meaningless slogan.
It must mean never again to genocide, never again to mass murder, never again to anti-Semitism, and never again to terror.