Don’t Touch My Shoah!

Who will remember the dead of the Holocaust? A past that is not reflected on in the present will disappear in the future

Survivors and guests walking past the "Arbeit Macht Frei" gate at the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz, during International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies, in Poland, January 27, 2018.
Kacper Pempel.Reuters

So where are you for Memorial Day?

Either on Netflix or VOD, we haven’t decided yet.

And during the Independence Day torch-lighting ceremony?

The same. Sorry. Usually we’re invited somewhere, but not this year. It’s understandable. No one wants to see sour faces at his family celebration. We weren’t invited to the government’s party, although we used to like the state’s official celebrations. We grew up on them. When we were six we were already waving our little flags. We liked going in our white shirts to the parade ground and standing at attention in honor of the flag and the fallen soldiers.

So, what’s wrong with that?

On the contrary! It’s quite all right. Legitimate. A state celebrating its existence. It’s allowed, it’s kind of a show, a show of brotherhood, friendship and camaraderie. It’s a display, a performance, but I’m fine taking part in the state’s show, just not in Miri Regev’s. Her show is false. She presents unity where there is none and friendship where there is hostility.

What does Regev’s ceremony have to do with me? She’s turned hatred into an ideology and incitement into a system. What’s a ceremony worth if she can’t have influence over it? All year long she calls us traitors and on Independence Day we’re suddenly brothers? What about the eve of Memorial Day? There we honor the fallen, not those who labeled you traitors.

True, but that too is a ceremony of solidarity. Solidarity with the families of the fallen. You can’t pull solidarity off the shelf at will. Either there is such a thing or there isn’t, and now there isn’t any. Memories too have an expiration date. The state can shut down movie theaters, turn off the lights and have us standing for hours as sirens wail. It won’t help. A state can impose displays of grief but it can’t save memories. Memories require maintenance. Memorial Day for war victims will persist as long as there are wars. As long as there are wars there will be widows and orphans. As long as there are bereaved parents there will always be someone to remember the fallen.

And who will remember the dead of the Holocaust? The eve of Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day will become another Tisha B’Av. Movie theaters will be closed and the streets darkened and no one will remember what for. No one will remember because the last memory will die with the death of the last survivor.

I don’t have anyone to remember. I can’t remember the grandfather I never met or miss the grandmother I never knew. When I die the stories I heard will also be forgotten. When we disappear, the Holocaust will become a brief chapter in school books. The “martyrs” will be de-emphasized, the “heroes” will be stressed.

When the dead are silent, politicians talk. What do they talk about? About the lessons of the Holocaust. What lesson did they learn? The lesson is that we must be strong so that we can do to others what the Germans did to us.

This is a lesson that carries no memories. It carries no memories since it doesn’t answer the questions we need to ask. We don’t ask since honest answers step on our toes. We demand: Don’t touch our Shoah! Leave it on another planet, a planet where German devils kill Jewish martyrs, not human beings like us who kill other human beings.

It’s more convenient to talk about anti-Semitism, not about racism – guess why? Without answers we’ll forget everything and everyone and Germany will be replaced by Iran. Yes, we’ll create monuments and nonprofit organizations. It won’t help. A past that is not reflected on in the present will disappear in the future.