As Holocaust memorials were held earlier this week, a rueful news story emerged of an Israeli poll revealing that a huge 37% of young people there think a new Holocaust is possible. Think about that. The Holocaust happened some sixty years ago, and great ends were gone to worldwide to say Never Again, to educate the world about its utter evil. On the surface, some progress has been made because antisemites the world over find that their easiest justification of it is to deny it. But apparently, the years of exhortations to Never Forget have had little of the implied plea to never repeat. Because that's what's on young people's minds, burdening them with such worries in the prime of their lives when they should really be preoccupied with cars, girlfriends, boyfriends, parties and fashion. Thirty-seven percent of Israeli kids are worrying about a Holocaust instead.
However, it makes sense. Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has threatened to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Antisemitic attacks are up in France, and worldwide they are up 50%. Crazy antisemitic rumors are manufactured and spread from Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and now England has seen schoolteachers cutting Holocaust studies, a central reality of western European history, from the school curriculum to appease anti-Semitic Muslim emigres and reinforce ignorance. These are just a few things, and there are some truly terrible others out there.
Now go back to the 37% figure again. What's even more frightening is that 63% of Israeli kids don't think another Holocaust is possible. In light of the realities out there, it's a frightening echo of the attitude many Jews in Germany had, the people who couldn't make themselves believe the signs of a coming Holocaust all around them, either. But they were blameless because a Holocaust had never happened before and the idea of their own neighbors killing them all in their suburban-comfort civilization was an outrageous possibility almost too difficult to imagine.
This new generation has few reasons to doubt it could happen again. Yet there are signs of great complacency in Israel itself. The seemingly enervated state of Israel's military, which culminated in its reduced will to fight in its last border war with Hezbollah is perhaps most worrisome. A lack of vigilance is at the root of that, and it's alarming.
It's sad that 37% of Israeli young people think another Holocaust is possible. But it's worse that 63% don't.