From Wednesday night through Thursday is a solemn day for the Jews. Its full name Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG’vurah יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה; which in English translates to“Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day.” The day is more commonly known as Yom HaShoah (יום השואה), a worldwide day of remembrance for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its allies, and for the Jewish resistance in that period.
This year’s commemoration is particularly relevant as only seven decades after Hitler was defeated, Antisemitism and Holocaust denial is growing at an accelerated rate throughout the world.
In Israel Yom HaShoah is a national memorial day. It was inaugurated in 1953, anchored by a law signed by the the first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion and the Israeli President at the time, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. It is held on the 27th of Hebrew month of Nisan (April/May), unless the 27th would be adjacent to Sabbath, in which case the date is shifted by a day. What started out a commemoration recognized only in Israel, is now a day of remembrance throughout the world.
You may have heard that the reason the 27th of Nissan in the Hebrew calendar was chosen was because in matches the date of the start of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising –that isn’t true. The ghetto uprising was considered for Yom HaShoah, but rejected because it would have meant the observance would have taken place the day before Passover. Those who observe the Passover holiday are busily preparing their homes for that observance that includes getting rid of all of one’s yeast/grain related products as well as rituals observed at home, there was no room for an additional observance
The 27th of Nissan was chosen because in Jewish tradition is everything bad is always balanced by something good. For example, in Deuteronomy God says I put before you a blessing and a curse; or in Exodus the Golden Calf is followed by forgiveness. In that same vein exactly week after Yom HaShoah is Yom Ha’atzmah’ut Israeli Independence Day (their equivalent of July 4th). So the horror of the Shoah is balanced by a Jewish people having the power to defend themselves.
We light a memorial candle on Yom HaShoah as a recognition that the souls of the victims are still alive in our hearts and that many entire families were murdered meaning there are none left to mourn for them. We light a memorial candle on Yom HaShoah to remember never to forget.
Much of modern Antisemitism is different from the traditional Jew-hatred, it is disguised as anti-Zionism, and claimed to be simply criticism of Israel. The truth is that it is a very nasty form of Antisemitism. Muslim terrorist groups are targeting Jews for no other reason than their faith.
Israel is demonized and held to double standards not used against any other country including some of the world’s most despotic regimes. The same people who criticized the Israeli fence built to keep out terrorists were silent about the fence Saudi Arabia built on their border with Yemen. The “left” repeatedly calls for boycotts of Israel because they claim it is “an apartheid state.” However, Israel is so totally free of apartheid that anyone who has spent ten minutes there knows the accusation to be an outright lie. So why keep on saying something untrue? Antisemitism.
In Great Britain Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the the major leftist party (Labor) is a man who has spent his political life cozying up to anti-Semites and terrorist groups that express genocidal intent against the Jewish people. He has worked closely with Holocaust deniers, praised anti-Semitic extremists and described Hamas and Hezbollah as his friends. And his example is being followed by other party members, some of whom were recently suspended by the party in a cynical attempt to make the story go away.
The hatred exists throughout Europe:
A lot of this is good old-fashioned “far-right”, neo-fascist anti-Semitism, easily dismissed as the ravings of shaven-headed neo-Nazis who have evidently learned nothing from history. In some places, that is true: there are plenty of “neo-fascists” with overt racist policies in Eastern Europe today. Some countries, such as Greece, Hungary and Romania, face a strong neo-fascist revival and are seriously anti-Semitic. But move farther West, and, for a long time now, European anti-Semitism, including its variants in the UK, has been driven for the most part by two groups: radical Muslims (many from countries where explicit, no-holds-barred anti-Semitism is expressed by 90% or more of the population) and radical “left-wingers.”
Antisemitism in France has driven Aliyah (moving to Israel) to record numbers.
But if you believe that Antisemitism is only on in Europe, you have another thing coming, it’s alive, well, ignored and living in America. And ironically the Antisemitism is being driven on the liberal side of the political aisle. It’s ironic because the majority of American Jews are liberals, and the leaders of major Jewish organizations (including the Reform and Conservative movements) try to advance progressive politics (sometimes to the exclusion of their religious obligations).
College campuses in America have long been the breeding grounds for the progressive movement. It is not a coincidence that they’re also the breeding grounds for Jew-hatred. In 2105 there were 455 anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses.
The American news media has continued its return to using the ancient anti-Semitic blood libel. During the most recent rash of terror attacks the headlines usually read something like “Israeli Police Shoots Palestinian.” Then in smaller letters, or somewhere down in the lower part of the story is that the police shot the Palestinian after he stabbed three Israelis and was running toward the policemen with a knife.
For example in October of last year when Israeli police shot a man who was lunging at them with a knife, NBC News’ Ayman Mohyeldin claimed the man’s hand was open and couldn’t be holding a knife, which was blood libel lie so blatant that host MSNBC host Jose Diaz’ Balart corrected him on the air and showed that Mohyeldin’s own video very clearly the terrorist’s hands weren’t open and it certainly looked like he had a knife in his hand. Though he deliberately lied Mohyeldin is still employed by NBC News.
Even the President of the United States, Barack Obama has displayed Antisemitism, he constantly singles out Israel for rebuke even when the Palestinians are the ones being stiff-necked or calling for terror.
A July 31 2015 phone call organized by the anti-Israel group J Street and other progressive Jewish groups seemed to be a recent example of Obama’s anti-Semitism. During the 20-minute phone call Obama said over and over that opponents of the Iran deal come from the same “array of forces that got us into the Iraq war,” he said a “bunch of billionaires who happily finance super PACs” are “putting the squeeze on members of Congress.”
The message was clear to the Jewish participants, William Daroff Senior Vice President for Public Policy & Director of the Washington office of The Jewish Federations of North America a very pro-Obama/liberal organization tweeted during the meeting “Jews are leading effort to kill #Irandeal. ‘Same people opposing the deal led us into Iraq war,’” and followed with “Canard: Jews got us into Iraq War.”
The presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party Hillary Clinton has compared orthodox Jewish practice to Iran’s Muslim zealots. In 2011 speaking at the at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy part of the liberal Brookings Institute, Clinton Israeli orthodox Jews the wake of limitations regarding female singing in the IDF and gender segregation on public transportation. Both were accommodations made to the Orthodox communities in Israel and Hillary’s complaints were based on false information.
Clinton referred to the decision of some IDF soldiers to leave an event where female soldiers were singing; she said it reminded her of the situation in Iran. Talk about being hyperbolic, in Iran the women would have been lashed or executed. In Israel they were allowed to sing, and the people who felt it was against their religious beliefs were allowed to walk out. That’s it! Most senior officers in the IDF supported the women’s right to sing and stayed. That’s called religious freedom.
The Democrat has also spoke of her shock that some Jerusalem buses had assigned separate seating areas for women to accommodate orthodox Jewish passengers. “It’s reminiscent of Rosa Parks,” said Hillary.
The progressive movement in America generates most of the Antisemitism in the country (if you don’t believe me just go to sites such as Daily Kos, or Huffington Post, and search the words “Jew” and “Israel”). Interestingly although whenever a grass roots conservative movement begins to grow, the same progressives use fake charges of Antisemitism as tools against the conservatives. They did it with the tea party, and more recently used the Jew-hater label against Ted Cruz who was the most pro-Jewish candidate in the race.
In Israel, at 10:00am on YomHaShoah a siren blares throughout the country and people will stop where ever they are. Even if they are in their car on a highway they stop in the middle of the road get out of their vehicle and stand silently with their thoughts.
The Holocaust is unique in its volume and horrors and is a singular event in world history, yes there are genocides of other groups, and other horrors even to the Jews. But generally the genocide is waged to suppress a group, to take their territory, or some economic reason like to enslave a people. This was different– the Jews had no territory, an held relatively little power. In the Holocaust Jews were taken from all over Europe just to be killed. And while that was being done friendly supposedly civilized leaders like Franklyn Roosevelt and Winston Churchill sentenced hundreds of thousands of Jews to death because they didn’t want more Jews in their country.
The Jewish land became a Jewish state for the first time in almost 2,000 years because the lesson of the Holocaust was that it was too dangerous for the Jewish people to continue to be homeless and powerless. Or in the words of Elie Wiesel, we learned to trust our enemy’s threats more than our friend’s promises. That is a warning we must recognize today more than ever before.
The video below is a musical tribute to the Holocaust from the late Great Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, who during his lifetime was known as the singing Rabbi.