Lessons from the Holocaust

Holocaust Memorial Day takes place annually on 27 January. It marks the day when the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland was liberated.

The importance of commemorating this day is to remind us to what level of barbarism the human race is capable of and hopefully to prevent such incidents in future. Unfortunately, many such atrocities, although not on the same scale, took place since the tragic events of the Holocaust. The genocide in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia and Darfur comes to mind – the human race against the human race.

Gregory H Stanton, President of Genocide Watch developed the 8 Stages of genocide which explains the different stages which lead to genocide. At each of the earlier stages there is an opportunity for members of the community or the International Community to halt the stages and stop genocide before it happens.

Stage 1 – The differences between people are not respected.

Stage 2 – This is a visual manifestation of hatred.

Stage 3 – Those who are perceived as “different” are treated with no form of human right or personal dignity.

Stage 4 – Genocides are always planned.

Stage 5 – Propaganda begins to be spread by hate groups.

Stage 6 – Victims are identified based on their differences.

Stage 7 – The hate group murders their victims in a deliberate and systematic campaign of violence.

Stage 8 – The perpetrators or later generations deny the existence of any crime.

According to the annual Anti-Semitism report released by Israel’s Information and Diaspora Ministry on 26 January 2014, Jewish communities around the world are living with a sense of growing anti-Semitism. Minister Naftali Bennett, states that “the soul, rather than the body, is the main victim of the new wave of anti-Semitism.”

Some 100 anti-Semitic websites have been recorded in Italy, in Canada there is an increase in online harassment, and even Web surfers in Kyrgyzstan are blaming the economic and social problems on the Jews.

Social networks in Mexico recorded in the beginning of the year a wave of anti-Semitic expressions related to the Holocaust, like “I’m burning like a Jew,” which reached the sixth place on the Twitter popularity list. Another tweet combined a children’s game with a picture of dead Jews in a concentration camp.

The “quenelle” gesture, seen as an inverted Nazi salute, began spreading across Europe in late 2013. French comedian Dieudonné M’bala M’bala, who invented the “quenelle,” gained half a million friends and followers on social networks; and groundless anti-Semitic conspiracy theories reached every house (Kobi Nachshoni, Jewish World).

Ynetnews reported the following: “In January 2013, pictures of a Jewish cemetery desecrated in Tunisia were spread on social networks. The situation of the Jews of Djerba, about 1,000, is difficult and they live in fear after their main synagogue and school were damaged.”

The report itself notes that “the anti-Zionism, which is mainly prevalent among the Left and has already become an integral part of the regular worldview of individuals and groups within it, can be defined as a cultural code replacing anti-Semitism and allowing its distributors to deny any connection to anti-Semitism. This denial is defined by researches today as ‘anti-Semitism denial’ – like Holocaust denial.”

Why is it important for us to take note of these developments? Firstly, and most importantly, let it not be said of us again, like in the pre-Holocaust era, that we were silent when these things take place around us. Let us not go astray because of a lack of knowledge, but use our circle of influence to spread the light of truth in a world of evil. Secondly, and just as important, let us show unconditional love to our Jewish brethren as God showed to all of us. Love conquers everything.

When they were but few in number, few indeed, and strangers in it, they wandered from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another. He allowed no man to oppress them; for their sake he rebuked kings: “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.” – 1 Chronicles 16:18.

O God, do not keep silent; be not quiet, O God, be not still.  See how your enemies are astir, how your foes rear their heads.  With cunning they conspire against your people; they plot against those you cherish.  “Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more.” – Psalm 83:1 – 4

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