Opinion | The here and now of Holocaust remembrance

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Ruthie Blum
Ruthie Blum (Via JNS.org)

By Ruthie Blum

It is of tragic relevance that anti-Jewish Arab riots, rocket fire and hate-filled solidarity protests around the world upstaged the lead-up to Yom HaShoah, which began on Wednesday evening.


Normally at this time, Israel’s preparations for Holocaust Remembrance Day are highlighted in news broadcasts and discussed at length by the punditocracy. Even during the more than 25-month pandemic period, the day marked by Israel for the anniversary of the Nazi genocide of the Jews was treated with deference.

This year, however, one would have been hard-pressed even to realize that the date was fast approaching. If anything, Israelis have been invoking the Holocaust mainly to decry the events in Ukraine.


The desire to universalize the particular plight of the Jews is nothing new. Nor is it surprising that many Jews are at the forefront of the effort to turn “never again” into a slogan that applies to any and all forms of death, destruction and discrimination.

For the past few years, even a number of prominent Israelis have joined the endeavor with gusto, not only through false analogies but by using the occasion of Holocaust remembrance to warn the Jewish state about its own dangerous extremists. Though some purveyors of this pernicious “cautionary tale” happen to be members of parties in Israel’s governing coalition, their narrative has difficulty permeating the national membrane.

For one thing, most Israelis are too concerned with their personal safety in the face of shootings, stabbings, car-rammings and Molotov cocktails to worry about the purity of their souls and adherence to an unrealistic “rules of engagement” doctrine.

For another, the very real possibility of a nuclear Islamic Republic is both looming and concrete.

Such pressing security threats, with no end in sight, help to explain the results of a poll released this week by the Pnima movement. According to the survey, conducted by Direct Polls, nearly half of the Israeli public (47%) fears another Holocaust against the Jews.

To be sure, this level of existential anxiety may be misplaced or a function of general dread on the part of a certain slice of society. Still, given the steep rise in global Jew-hatred — coupled with the spike in terrorism against Israelis and the P5+1 countries’ desperation to return to a deal that fills Iran’s coffers and guarantees its ayatollah-led regime an arsenal of atomic bombs — it’s not completely irrational.

Nevertheless, doomsday scenarios are not constructive. They certainly aren’t conducive to a “never again” mindset or outcome.

The same applies to those Israelis who opt to learn the wrong lessons from the Holocaust. Embracing the bogus comparison between Hitler’s “final solution” and other conflicts is as ill-fated as believing that a repeat performance is inevitable. And even entertaining the idea that the Jewish state is on some kind of slippery slope to Nazism is immoral.

 

Ruthie Blum is an Israel-based journalist and author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’”

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