web analytics
August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Trivializing The Holocaust

Foxman-011312

There was a time when no one living in Israel needed a reminder of what was at stake when the Jewish state was created in 1948 in the aftermath of World War II and the Nazi Holocaust.

Israelis and Jews the world over knew that the survival of the Jewish people depended on the ability to have a home to return to after our near-ruinous encounter with European anti-Semitism.

There was also a time when the words “Hitler,” “Nazi” and “Gestapo” were not thrown about recklessly, when images of the emaciated inmates of Nazi concentration camps were a reminder not just to the Jewish people but to all the world of the terrible turn of events that led to the death of 6 million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust.

The uniqueness of the Holocaust was what made the state of Israel such a powerful answer to those who had attempted to annihilate the Jews. And its memory would ensure that the mass genocide that befell European Jewry would never happen again. Indeed, the message of “Never Again” redefined Jewish experience and peoplehood in the latter half of the 20th century.

But over time we have found the need to remind others – and sometimes ourselves – of the importance of this experience and of the need to protect its memory from those who would distort it. That is why we have felt it necessary to battle efforts to undermine or trivialize the history of the Holocaust. It is why we have worked to expose Holocaust deniers. And it is why we repeatedly speak out when the Holocaust becomes grist for inappropriate comparisons, or when terminology such as “Nazi” or “Hitler” are misused to wage political attacks or are trivialized in popular culture.

Yet never did I think that we would have to speak out about the abject trivialization of the Holocaust by a group of Jews living in Israel. But that is exactly what happened recently when, following efforts by secular Israelis to roll back gender segregation on some bus lines, a group of haredim protested by dressing up in concentration camp garb and wearing yellow Stars of David inscribed with the word “Jude.”

The scene in Jerusalem was both an aberration and an outrage. This was blatant, in-your-face Holocaust trivialization on a level that until now we have rarely witnessed in Israeli society.

For decades, Israelis and Jews around the world have worked to protect the memory of the Holocaust. We built Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. In the United States, we founded the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. Today there’s even a Holocaust memorial in Berlin, Germany.

We worked hard with like-minded righteous gentiles and governments to protect and preserve the sites in Europe most closely associated with the Shoah, including the concentration camps, the deportation sites, the mass graves and the evidence of once-thriving Jewish communities. And we created and stressed educational efforts, such as Echoes and Reflections – the multimedia Holocaust curriculum developed by the Anti-Defamation League in partnership with Yad Vashem and the USC Shoah Foundation Institute – to ensure that the lessons of the Shoah are passed on to future generations.

We also battled efforts to undermine or trivialize the history and memory of the Holocaust. The most pernicious form was Holocaust denial, a form of anti-Semitism. But while the deniers remain mostly on the fringes of society, we have found ourselves increasingly engaged in a battle against a more subtle form of trivialization borne of ignorance, forgetfulness and carelessness about truth and memory.

For more than a decade, inappropriate and offensive comparisons to the Holocaust have cropped up increasingly in the U.S. Political leaders have accused each other of using propaganda like Goebbels or of “sending in the brownshirts.” Celebrities compare their personal ordeals to those of Anne Frank, or in a traumatic moment in their lives, make trite comparisons to Hitler or the Holocaust.

As Jews, we have found ourselves needing to constantly raise our voices against this kind of trivialization in an effort not only to remind others of the pain and offensiveness of these remarks, but also to protect the memory of the Holocaust, so that we do not wake up one day to a world that no longer remembers the lessons of that period – or, worse, is indifferent to them.

At a time when trivialization of the Holocaust is booming around the world, it is now becoming apparent that we also need to do a better job of reminding ourselves and our children of the importance of remembrance and of protecting the memory of those who perished and the honor of those who fought to defeat the murderous Nazis.

Israelis should no longer refer to other Israelis as “Nazis.” Jewish settlers should know better than to shout “Nazi” against Israeli soldiers (there primarily for the settler’s protection) in the West Bank. The fact that some Israelis refer to the 1967 border between Israel and the West Bank as “the Auschwitz border” shows how far removed some Israelis and Jews have become from the true horrors of the Shoah.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Trivializing The Holocaust”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS in Quneitra
Updates from Kuneitra, Syria [video]
Latest Indepth Stories
IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz reviewing maps on the Golan Heights.

The bad news is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are on the Syrian Golan. The good news is that every terrorist in Syria is killing each other.

TorahScroll AoT17

The congregants, Ethiopians spanning generations, were beaming with joy and pride.

Troodler-082914

The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security.

Eisenstock-082914

How does a soldier from a religious home fall in love with a soldier from a non- religious kibbutz?

In 19th century entire ancient Jewish communities fled Palestine to escape brutal Muslim authorities

Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.

Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.

One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.

While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.

We risk our lives to help those who do what they can to kill to our people .

Twain grasped amazingly well the pulse of the Jewish people.

The entertainment industry appears divided about the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

More Articles from Abraham H. Foxman
Nelson Mandela at Yad Vashem

I first met Mandela in Geneva in 1990 as part of a delegation of American Jewish leaders.

Leo Frank

The trial was a shock to American Jews, as was Frank’s lynching two years later.

Worried about a nuclear Iran? Do you think such a development would not only threaten Israel’s existence but would intimidate the Arab countries of the Gulf, put the radical Islamist regime in position to threaten the West, and lead to unmanageable nuclear proliferation? Have no fear! Kenneth N. Waltz, the highly respected professor of international relations at Columbia University, argues in a recent article of Foreign Affairs magazine that “Iran Should Get the Bomb.”

There was a time when no one living in Israel needed a reminder of what was at stake when the Jewish state was created in 1948 in the aftermath of World War II and the Nazi Holocaust.

The threat of the infiltration of Sharia, or Islamic law, into the American court system is one of the more pernicious conspiracy theories to gain traction in our country in recent years.

On the evening of December 11, 1995, businessman Aaron Feuerstein was with family and friends at a restaurant in Boston. It was his seventieth birthday, and a group of well-wishers had gathered to throw him a surprise party.

So there it was, “perfect proof” of what John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt were saying about the Israeli lobby: the pressure mounted and Charles Freeman, the designated chairman of the National Intelligence Council, decided to withdraw his name from consideration.

Coming just weeks after the explosion of global anti-Semitism that followed Israel’s military action in Gaza, the timing couldn’t have been better for the London Conference on Combating Anti-Semitism, held Feb. 16 and 17.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/trivializing-the-holocaust/2012/01/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: