The "cult" devoted to defending the sanctity of the Holocaust has reached immense proportions. So immense that almost any attempt to come to conclusions from the Holocaust might get you into trouble with the appointed, mostly self-appointed, guardians of that sanctity.
And thus, as with religious zealots, the very discussion of the Holocaust is considered almost heresy. A person who wants the best for you will tell you: Keep away from discussing the Holocaust, because with all good intensions, in the end you’ll get burned by some fanatic, especially if you’re not Jewish.
It’s like a person obsessed with cleanliness and order who prohibits the children and partner from entering the house completely in order to keep it clean. The lesson from the Holocaust expresses itself in the reverberating cry “never again.” But this cry is not a gleaming vase on display in a historical museum. Whoever thought of it wanted, one may presume, to fight with utter devotion not only against Nazism but also against any phenomenon, however small, that reeks of immorality. Because if it’s only a war against Nazism in Germany at that time, then the slogan has no real content.
Nazism is the outcome of economic, social and philosophical processes that took place over many years. And so the cry “never again” contains the assumption that the evil is still alive and kicking. And before our very eyes, the United States – whose Constitution is its holy of holies – has almost been crushed by a president who with a wave of his hand abolishes a tradition of decades. There is real concern there that all order could collapse.
And one might assume that if in the United States certain conditions were to be created – such as an outbreak of terror attacks, perish the thought – Donald Trump’s assault on the current order would have no small chance of succeeding. While bringing down democratic order in the United States is not on a par with the rise of Nazism in Germany, are there no parallels? Moreover, the lessons from the history of Nazism contribute to opening the eyes of many to the danger of decline toward a totalitarian regime.
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The lesson we learn here is that nothing is immune to aggressive nationalism. Every day must begin anew the struggle against the destroyers of democracy, even faltering democracy. CNN’s Christiane Amanpour wanted only to note that Kristallnacht is not an archaeological display, but rather a call to fight alarming trends in the United States. No, say the guardians of the cult of the Holocaust’s sanctity. Certainly, one may debate and disagree with Amanpour, but the lordly tone that emerges from here is the complete opposite of the lessons of the Holocaust: a tone of silencing the other.
The distorted thinking in Israel regarding the lessons of the Holocaust reaches the level of absurdity. In the case of Amanpour, one of her critics, Israel’s consul general in New York, Dani Dayan, lives in a settlement in occupied territory, whose very existence is illegal according to international law. Another absurdity concerns Meretz lawmaker Yair Golan, considered an enlightened person, who on the one hand warns against the processes in Europe in the 1930s, and at the same time sees the commemoration of the victims of the 1956 massacre at Kafr Qasem as “the merest trifle.”
The ultimate in this display is the intent to crown Effi Eitam, the heavy-handed racist, as chairman of Yad Vashem, the official state institution for commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust. Such an appointment, even just the intent to push it through, is a searing insult to those victims.
The guardians of the lessons of the Holocaust must be replaced because the current ones have become a shield for immoral practices, first and foremost the continued imprisonment of millions of people behind fortified barriers.
It seems that here too, the philosopher Friedrich Hegel was correct in saying: “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.” It’s a pity. If we were to actually learn, our condition would be much improved.