What Does the Holocaust Have to Do with Me?

by | May 9, 2024 | Middle East & Israel

Instead of Swastikas, they are wearing Keffiyehs.

Israeli children begin learning about the Holocaust as early as the age of 4 or 5. As I progressed through my school years, the Holocaust was mentioned more frequently. Our teachers narrated stories of the survivor’s heroism while also describing the horrors committed in the ghettos and the death camps. Occasionally, survivors were welcomed into our classrooms to recount their experiences. The Holocaust has always been a presence in the background.

The main mantra has always been: “Never Again”. They kept saying it again and again without ever explaining what the root cause of the Holocaust was. I remember one “explanation” being that it is inexplicable; there is no sense in the Holocaust, and any attempt to explain it is hubristic.

The assurance my teachers gave us was that because Israel had been established and now we have a strong military, the Holocaust would never happen again.

I remember being disinterested in the subject. I couldn’t resonate with Holocaust Remembrance Day. I hated watching the movies, participating in the ceremonies, seeing the pictures, and hearing the stories. I couldn’t see the connection. What do all these horror stories have to do with me?

Even though both my grandparents were Holocaust survivors, I saw this as a non-issue that belonged to the past. Indeed, there are no more Nazis, and the Jews now have a homeland. Why have all this bickering about the Holocaust?

As I grew older, I became more interested in the subject because I was particularly interested in World War II history. In my senior year, I wanted to go to the death camps tours in Poland, along with my class, as every Israeli school does. But then COVID hit, and it was cancelled.

My transformation from being an orthodox Yeshiva student to an atheist affected my relationship with the Holocaust. I became less interested in Jewish history, and in general, I turned away from Israel. I no longer had as much of a connection to Israel as I used to, and I was looking outward to the world, Europe, and America as fundamentally superior places to live.

October 7th changed all of that.

The abstract, black-and-white Holocaust became a very concrete reality. The “Never Again” slogan I was taught since kindergarten didn’t hold up. It happened again, and most shockingly, it happened on Israel’s soil.

It was not only the October 7th massacre but also the global waves of anti-Semitism that followed immediately after the massacre. I have seen in person the hordes of “pro-Palestine” protestors on the streets of London, a city that used to be my escape heaven, the place I dreamt of moving to. I realised that this place wasn’t safe for me. Should these mobs learn of the fact that I am Jewish, they would lynch me. The fact that the British police stopped Jews from going near these protests on numerous occasions is a testimony to that. [1]

Of course, the fact that so many Holocaust promoters are showing their ugly heads doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a majority. But the Nazis were also not a majority. Indeed, in the March 1933 election in Germany, it was the 66% majority that allowed the 33% Nazi minority to rise to power. [2]

I have been to many “pro-liberty” events since October 7th, and I was shocked to learn how many of them don’t care about Israel. They would go on and on about Ukraine, but they would never mention Israel as a side that justifies their solidarity.

The only comment I heard from one commentator is that Israel was playing to Russia’s hands because Russia anticipated Israel’s reaction to October 7th in the way that it did so that the world would forget about Ukraine. The same professor would conclude that the three countries are engaged in the frontlines of the global battle for liberty: Ukraine, Georgia, and Taiwan.

When I stood there and listened to his words, I became furious. Not only for the fact that he wouldn’t mention Israel as one of the countries at the forefront of the battle for liberty, and not only for him accusing Israel of being played by Putin, but for the fact that nobody cared to mention Israel to him in the question period afterwards.

I was also embarrassed to participate in such an event. “What the hell am I doing here?” I thought to myself.

There, I realised that if these “pro-liberty” activists had nothing to say about Israel in an era where there is much more freedom to say such things, then they would definitely have stayed silent in Europe in the 1930s. I’m sure some of them would even join the Nazis, as so many intellectuals did.

So much for liberty.

We have hordes of hundreds of thousands calling “from the river” all around Europe and the United States, and those who are supposed to represent liberty are silent, along with the vast majority of the other parties.

I realised that my situation in 2024 shares ‘Ominous Parallels’ [3] with my grandfather’s situation in 1939 in Frankfurt, Germany. He also had hordes of anti-Semites calling for his annihilation. Of course, things still haven’t gone that far, and I am lucky to have been born in an era where Jews have a formidable military and a sovereign state. That wasn’t the case for my grandfather, whose family had been exterminated in the death camps.

The horrors of October 7th, the millions upon millions calling “from the river” in the streets of most western capitals, and the moral impotence of the liberty advocates made me finally understand what the Holocaust had to do with me. Instead of Swastikas, they are wearing Keffiyehs.

When I am walking the streets of London, I am as alone as my grandfather was in Germany. My situation is far better; obviously, the Western governments are not anti-Semitic, and they don’t plan to execute Holocaust 2.0, but there are millions inside Europe and the US who would very much like to do that. Also, the weakness of most Western nations in combating the spread of anti-Semitism made me realise that should I become a victim of a pogrom, almost nobody would do anything to stop or even condemn it—not that they won’t condemn it because they agree, but because they are scared of the Islamist mobs [4]. The world isn’t safe for me.

Just like the Allies wouldn’t bomb Auschwitz, they wouldn’t kill the Jews of their own accord, but they wouldn’t intervene to stop the Holocaust from happening. [5]

As much as I am anti-religious, and as much as I don’t want to make a big deal out of my Jewish identity, millions of people in the world consider me their mortal enemy. They are willing to risk their own lives for the sake of murdering me and my family and destroying my country.

This is the state of the world right now.

The Holocaust Remembrance Day is about “Never Again”. It happened again, and it can happen again and again and again until Israel finally decides to put an end to ideas that propagate the genocide of Jews. This time, it’s not Nazism per se, but Islamic fundamentalism. They vary in their justifications and methods, but they both want the same thing: Auschwitz.

But Israel and most of its people still don’t understand why the Holocaust happened. They don’t even understand why October 7th happened. So, how can Israel stop it from happening again? The moment Israel proclaimed its enemy to be “Hamas”, it lost the war.

The Israelis, along with the rest of the Western world, don’t understand that Hitler and these Islamists share the same enemy. They share a philosophy of death, and to coalesce a hateful hoard, they choose a familiar enemy, the Jews.

That is what the Holocaust has to do with me.

Until Israel realises that and acts accordingly, we will continue down the track of being closer and closer to Auschwitz again and again.

Let us hope that on the next Holocaust Remembrance Day, we will be much farther away from Auschwitz than we are today.

 

[1] – Jewish man prevented from crossing pro-Palestinian march by Met Police officers, Sky News, April 19, 2024.

[2] – March 1933 German federal election, Wikipedia.

[3] – A must-read if you wish to gain a deeper understanding of Nazism: The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America, Dr. Leonard Peikoff, 1983.

[4] – UK minister quits politics over death threats for pro-Israel views, Politico, February 1, 2024.

[5] – The Auschwitz bombing debate, Wikipedia.

Yonatan Daon is an Objectivist who explores the history and philosophy of art on his substack Philosophy: I Need It Philosophy: I Need It , where he explores various artists and movements to enrich our understanding and appreciation and to make our lives more beautiful. Follow him on Twitter/X: @YonatanDaon

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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