Who Needs Holocaust Remembrance Day?

And why not just drop Memorial Day for Israel's fallen soldiers while we're at it.

Nehemia Shtrasler
Nehemia Shtrasler
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Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff  Gadi Eisenkot at the official Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem, Thursday.
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot at the official Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem, Thursday.Credit: Dudu Vakhnin
Nehemia Shtrasler
Nehemia Shtrasler

This is the most awe-inspiring and important week in the calendar. On Thursday, we remembered the murder of the six million. Next week we will stand in silence in memory of those killed in defense of the country, and then we will celebrate Independence Day. It’s a triad of sorts that accurately represents the wild turns of fortune that the Jewish people experienced during the 20th century.

It can be assumed that Israel would not have been established had it not been for the heavy sense of guilt experienced by all of the Western countries that didn’t lift a finger to stop the Nazi extermination machine.They would not have voted in favor of the United Nations partition plan that provided for the establishment of Israel had it not been for the memory of the six million.

Were it not for guilt feelings around the world, we would not have obtained arms and financial and diplomatic support over the years. If it were not for the Nazis’ Final Solution, we would have long ago sustained crippling international sanctions. And furthermore, the six million are a central part of our existence. They are our fathers and mothers. They are our flesh and blood. One could after all go mad with fury and dread upon hearing even a single small story about a mother who had to extract a gold tooth from her mouth to provide a piece of bread for her daughter in the ghetto. It is therefore difficult to understand how anyone could be capable, of using exaggerated, post-modernist reasoning to suggest the cancellation of the Remembrance Day for Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes (and, yes, anyone who survived a day at Auschwitz is a hero).

My view is just the opposite. I feel a closeness and identification with those who went through that hell and as a result, not only am I not prepared to accept the twisted idea of eliminating Holocaust Remembrance Day. I am in favor of giving it added prominence. The testimony of more survivors should be heard, more Holocaust films seen. The names of those who perished should indeed be read in the Knesset. We should continue to stand at attention for the siren on that day, join the March of the Living between Auschwitz and Birkenau and even see with our own eyes the furnaces in which some of our people were reduced to ashes.

But if they suggest eliminating Holocaust Remembrance Day, why not also eliminate Memorial Day to fallen soldiers, which is marked a week later? That could be the next idea proposed at this pace of morbid development of post-Zionism. After all, who are those 23,000 people who were killed in Israel’s wars? What did they do? Sacrifice their young lives so that we could live? So what. We can skip them and go straight to the barbecues of Independence Day.

But then why do we really need Independence Day? Maybe it’s worth returning to the good life in Europe and North America and again be that forlorn and persecuted Diaspora Jew whom everyone oppresses and humiliates and who in turn cowers in fear and dances to the tune of the overlord.

A normal political left wing doesn’t think that way. It does not commit suicide, does not burn the past. It does honor history and learn from it. A sane left wing understands that the trauma of the Holocaust and the establishment of Israel are the two most significant chapters in the history of the Jewish people in the modern era. It also understands that without the courage and sacrifice of those who died in defense of the country, Israel would not be here today.

A left that cherishes life would show pride on Independence Day and not be ashamed of waving the flag. A sane left wants to end the occupation of the West Bank and come to a two-state solution with the Palestinians but is not prepared to accept the right of return of Palestinian refugees, which would eliminate us. A normal left wing understands that there are still countries and leaders around the world who wish us dead. Iran, for example.

Left-wing people, not those who are trapped in self-hatred, understand that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can also be correct sometimes, for example, when he tries to prevent the mad regime in Iran from getting an atomic bomb. Iran isn’t threatening the United States and Europe, but it is threatening us.

History teaches that in the cruel and cynical world in which we live, if you don’t have power you’re as good as dead. That is the lesson of the Holocaust and the wars that Israel has fought, and that has to be imparted to everyone, including those who deny Holocaust Remembrance Day.

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