The Holocaust and Holocaust Denial are subjects which many people feel have been over flogged, for want of a better expression. The never-ending reference by Israelis and Jews to events which took place seventy years ago, two whole generations ago, are considered by some to be counterproductive especially when we recall that millions of people lost their lives in that terrible period. Six million Jews is a small proportion of the total deaths of WWII.
But therein lies the difference. Soldiers lost their lives fighting in the various armies. Innocent civilians lost their lives when their cities, in England, in occupied Europe and Germany, in Asia and Japan, were carpet bombed, whether by the Germans, the British or the Americans. Losses were great but far, far more survived than perished.
By contrast, Jews were deliberately murdered -- wherever they were, because they were Jews.
The plan for their eradication was German. Its execution, literally and figuratively, was successfully carried out with the compliance of the world, either actively by those in all of occupied Europe including France and Holland, who betrayed their Jewish neighbours and helped to round them up, or passively by the British refusal to allow Jewish refugees into Palestine, homeland of the Jewish people (League of Nations resolution when Britain was given the Mandate on modern Palestine) and the USA refusal to divert one bomb on the Auschwitz crematoria while continuing the air raids on the neighboring Auschwitz ammunition factory.
Entire Jewish families disappeared leaving no future generations. Leaving no one to remember them or mourn for them. There are very few Jewish families in the world who did not suffer bereavement during a time when one out of three Jews in the world died. Almost the entire Jewish population of Europe went up in smoke, literally. Repeat that to yourselves. Translate it to your own family circle. One out of three Jews in the whole world.
How can we forget this? We who remember over three and a half thousand years of our personal history. Our Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Our Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel. The twelve Tribes from whom we are descended. The Torah, our Code of Laws, which was given to Moses on Mount Sinai. The Words of our Prophets more than 2500 years ago which still resonate today. The building and destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Exile, persecution, expulsion, inquisition, settlement, temporary acceptance.
All this we remember but an event of the magnitude of the Holocaust we should forget?
The big question of course is why should the world be forced to remember? Simply because the Holocaust is not a Jewish affair. It touched all of mankind. A world which wants to forget such a tragedy, perhaps because it happened to the Jewish people, is a world which looks the other way when similar "ethnic cleansing", all be it on a smaller scale and executed without German efficiency, is perpetrated against other people in other parts of the world. From Rwandans to Darfurians, Kurds, Armenians, Bosnians -- the list is endless.
With the incontrovertible proof that there was a deliberate plan to wipe out the Jews of the world, why should we worry about Holocaust deniers? And the proof is indisputable. We have no need to rely on photographs of piles of emaciated bodies taken by the Allied armies as they liberated the camps. Or to depend on the ruins of the gas chamber and crematoria. Or to accept the testimonies of the survivors.
No. We have the minutes of the 1942 meeting at Wansee when the German leadership decided on the "Final Solution". We have their signed plans authorizing the building of the gas chambers and crematoria in Eastern Europe. We have miles and miles of files packed with meticulous documents left to us by the Germans, tracing the fate of Jews as they were moved from their homes to the ghettoes, to the trains, to the camps, to the selection line, to the gas chambers and to death.
As part of their meticulous record keeping the Germans dutifully recorded Jewish property, Jewish assets and Jewish art collections confiscated by the Reich -- that which had not already been taken by those who betrayed their Jewish neighbors. Not forgotten was the gold recovered from the gassed bodies before they were tossed into the crematoria, from gold tooth fillings, from wedding rings and other jewelry.
In the face of all this evidence "Holocaust Deniers" are delusional. No different from "flat-earthers". Anyone proclaiming today that the earth is flat would be considered a harmless fool and laughed off the stage. Faced with incontrovertible documented proof that there was a Holocaust, that at least six million Jews were deliberately murdered, that there were gas chambers and crematoria, why are Holocaust deniers not laughed off the stage?
On the contrary, they are widely accepted influential politicians and academics. The potential harm these Holocaust deniers can cause, whether in universities where they lecture, in the various UN organisations and NGO's where they serve or in countries which they govern, cannot be underestimated.
We cannot take lightly the power of manipulation of those "respectable" people, who have no respect for the truth and whose talent in successfully gaining maximum publicity for their perversion of the truth is mind boggling. On the contrary it should be a cause for alarm to every human being with a sense of justice, with an ounce of ethics, with a crumb of moral conduct, with an iota of honesty .
For Jews and Israelis, Holocaust denial is worrisome because it is invariably coupled with the desire to delegitimize the Jewish people and the Jewish State -- Israel. Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism/Zionism are the two sides to the same coin. But are anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism one and the same thing?
Zionism is not the government of Israel and its policies. Zionism is the legitimate (even according to a U.N. General Assembly resolution) right of the dispersed Jewish people to return to their homeland, the land where the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob became a people, became the Jewish Nation. More than three thousand years ago, and for over a thousand years, that place was known as Israel.
Can one not love the Jews but criticize the policies of the State of Israel? Of course. But when one fails also to criticize, with the same fervor, similar, and usually far worse, policies and behavior in other countries, armies and governments around the world, then the criticism of the policies of the State of Israel is purely a desire to delegitimize the Jewish people and the Jewish State - Israel, and nothing else. Anti-Semitism in its purest form.
Of late we are witness to a new denial -- the claim of many Moslem clerics, very influential ones at that, that there never was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and before the advent of Islam in the 7th century there was no Jewish presence in Jerusalem or the Holy Land. They too are no different from "flat-earthers". The historical proof refuting their claim is incontestable, extensive and varied. And I do not refer to the Hebrew Scriptures.
Here too, we cannot ignore the power of manipulation of those "respectable" people, who have no respect for the truth and whose talent in successfully gaining maximum publicity for their perversion of the truth is frightening. On the contrary it, too, should be a cause for alarm to every human being with a sense of justice, with an ounce of ethics, with a crumb of moral conduct or with an iota of honesty.
I am at a loss to understand how any believing Moslem can ignore the Koranic references to Moses, David, Solomon, the Prophets, the Jews and the Temple. In all the preaching of Moslem leaders against the Jews the following verses from the Koran are never quoted:
"Lo! those who believe (in that which is revealed to thee, Muhammad), and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans -- whoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right - surely their word is with the Lord, and there shall be no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve". Sura II v 62.
"And We said unto the Children of Israel after him: Dwell in the land; but when the promise of the hereafter cometh to pass we shall bring you as a crowd gathered out of the various nations." Sura XVII v 104. (After Moses leads the children of Israel across the Red Sea)
I am also at a loss to understand how any believing Christian can be silent when influential Moslem leaders rewrite history. If there was no Jewish presence in the Holy Land, in Judah and the Galilee and no Jewish Temple in Jerusalem where did all the events described by the Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John take place?
Apathy, indifference and lack of concern about these ostensibly "Jewish" problems will eventually lead to a rude awakening for the freedom loving democratic world. In the words of Irwin Cotler, who may have been paraphrasing Patrick Moynihan:
"The time has come not only to sound the alarm - but to act. For as history has taught us only too well: while it may begin with the Jews, it does not end with the Jews. Antisemitism is the canary in the mineshaft of evil and it threatens us all".