Once again, that time of year has come. Newspapers are full of black-and-white photos and headlines that read “never again.” The radio plays sad songs and the TV is full of stories, documentaries and testimonies from survivors on terrible atrocities and miraculous survival.
Yes, it’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Even the spring-like weather here seems fitting, even though it’s not April or May. And it’s not actually Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, it’s the day the international community chose to remember the Holocaust. So what do we do now?
At first, the Israeli media didn’t really know what to make of this day. One the one hand, our Holocaust Remembrance Day has its own traditions, codes, customs and texts. On the other, if the whole world is commemorating the disaster that befell the Jewish people, aren’t we going to join in? This year the solution seemed clear – we got another Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Channels 2 and 10 covered the trip by Knesset members to Auschwitz. Channel 10’s Nadav Perry traveled with them to Poland and reported that “throughout the day, the MKs and the other members of the delegation are reflecting on this moving experience just by being here.” The London and Kirschenbaum current-affairs show discussed the Holocaust in Libya, while the Yes satellite channel dedicated the evening to movies on people like Hitler and Otto Frank, Anne’s father.
Not surprisingly, Channel 1 broadcast the ceremony at Auschwitz live for hours, while the housing and construction minister, wrapped in a prayer shawl, said Kaddish. Later, the station broadcast a movie on a female pianist who survived the war.
This focus on the Holocaust, especially on the public channels, meshes well when Israel is being accused of apartheid policies. While boycotts are being declared on Israel, we need to remind the world about the last time buying things from Jews was forbidden and the world turned its back on us. Now, as Israel is accused of wrongdoing, it seems the right time to remind the world that we were the ones oppressed, and as we get more isolated, the more Holocaust Remembrance Days we’ll have.
Until the world is convinced, get used to it, we’’ll have at least two Holocaust Remembrance Days. It’s hard to believe that any television channel will change course over the next few years. It’s more likely they’ll cancel silly reality shows to make way for memorial broadcasts.
This is a very unhealthy direction. One Holocaust Remembrance Day isn’t enough? Maybe two aren’t enough? Why not one every four months? What does the day the goyim at the United Nations chose to remember the Holocaust have to do with us, anyway? It can’t be that the Holocaust’s message is that the Jewish people survived only to relive the experience every day.
Moran Sharir is Haaretz’s TV critic.
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