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January 28, 2010
WaPo's blind eye to Holocaust Remembrance Day
Several years ago, the United Nations decreed an annual international observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27. The UN selected that date because it was on Jan. 27, 1945, that Russian troops liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, where more than 1 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis.
This year, on Jan. 27 -- 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz -- Israeli President Shimon Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, delivered a stirring address to the German Parliament that recalled past horrors, while celebrating the rebirth of a Jewish state and warm relations with a different Germany.
Just by itself, Peres' appearance as president of a Jewish state not far from where German leaders plotted the destruction of European Jewry carried more than enough symbolism to warrant recognition by major news media. As Peres observed, here he was in what was once the center of Nazi power as representative of the "State of the Jews, the State of the Survivors, the State of Israel."
But there was far more than symbolism in this event at the Bundestag to arouse journalistic interest.
Peres began his speech by reciting the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for mourning the dead, in remembrance of the 6 million Jews murdered during the Holocaust. He followed up by recalling his own indelible personal memories of the Holocaust, telling German leaders about his family in Vishniev in Belarus, where as an 11-year-old he left for Palestine with the blessing of his grandfather, Rabbi Zvi Melzer, and how a few years later the Nazis rounded up all the Jews in Vishniev, including his beloved grandfather at the head of the group wrapped in his prayer Tallith, and marched them into the town's synagogue, where the Nazis locked the door and then set fire to the building, reducing all those inside to embers.
Still, Peres also brought a message of hope, of reconciliation, and of Israel's rebirth in its Jewish homeland. "The revival of Israel was a moral and historic answer to an attempt to erase the Jewish people from the face of the earth," he remarked.
Moving beyond the Holocaust and Israel's establishment, he spoke glowingly of the historic initiatives of German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion in forging close ties between a reborn Jewish nation and a post-Nazi, democratic Germany.
And Peres ended his speech by reciting Hatikva, Israel's national anthem, with its firm affirmation of Jewish claims to their own state -- "a free nation in our land -- in the land of Zion and Jerusalem."
Yet, the Washington Post chose not to cover this journalistically compelling event of an Israeli leader at the podium of German power 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz. Not one word.
Peres at the Bundestag, however, was by no means the only notable Holocaust Remembrance Day event. At Auschwitz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a solemn "Never Again" warning against what he termed the "new Amalek'" (the biblical destroyer of Jews) -- an obvious allusion to Iran. And Netanyahu made clear that Israel is not about to weaken or forego its right to self-defense.
The Auschwitz observance also attracted a number of Auschwitz "children" who managed to survive the horrors of the extermination camp and whose numbers are dwindling every year.
Yet, the Washington Post chose not to cover this journalistically compelling event of an Israeli leader at Auschwitz affirming to the world that, in the face of rising anti-Semitism and threats to Israel's existence, Jews this time will not allow themselves to be led to slaughter.
And there were still other newsworthy observances of Holocaust Remembrance Day, including Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon's address to the Council of Europe -- a body not known for its friendship of Israel. Stepping into the lion's den of Israeli critics, Ayalon delivered a point-by-point rebuttal of anti-Israel cliches that have been growing in popularity in Europe.
When challenged that Israel is now the Goliath -- not the David -- in the Middle East, Ayalon shot back: "Stop using Jewish history to distort reality. Israel is David in today's Middle East -- one Jewish state and 22 Arab states; 6 million Jews and 300 million Arabs; Israeli territory is one third of one percent of the whole land mass of the Middle East."
Yet, the Washington Post chose not to cover Ayalon's feistry address either.
To keep the record straight, however, the Washington Post did have a mention Holocaust Remembrance Day -- buried in the second sentence of a single-paragraph, two-sentence item in its "Digest" section of world news. Here's how it reads in its entirety:
Which is the Washington Post's way of saying that only Jews are left to remember Auschwitz and the Holocaust -- certainly not the Post and its editors.