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Holocaust Remembrance Day by Rodney Mazinter

Posted Jan 23, 2020

Holocaust Remembrance Day

By Rodney Mazinter 

SAZF Cape Council, Vice Chair & Chair Media

We approach another Holocaust Remembrance Day and many, particularly those born after 1945 are questioning why it is still necessary; why keep the memory alive. “Get on with it,” they say, “it’s history. Let us concentrate on the future.” These critics discount the link between Israel’s determination to survive and the memory of the Holocaust that has not been forgotten. Discounted because it represents their impatience with Israel’s embrace of its role as the ultimate guarantor of the safety of the Jewish people.

More lip service than ever is paid to the memory of the Shoah, while some of the same people who beat their breasts about the Six Million fail to speak out against the lie that Israel behaves like the Nazis. Yet in spite of that antisemitic smear, the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is an apt moment to remind us why the memory of what did and didn’t happen there is still central to the rationale for modern Zionism.

The lesson here is that the Jews were basically on their own in a genocidal war that was essentially separate from the one being waged by armies. When in 2003, the Israeli Air Force made a fly-by over Auschwitz, it was more than a publicity stunt. It remains embedded in the consciousness of those who are tasked with the defense of the Jewish people today. Israel’s ability to defend itself represents a guarantee that never again will the Jews wait in vain for friends to save those in peril.

As much as it would be desirable if the memory of the Holocaust would motivate the world to prevent new genocides, the last 75 years have proven again and again that this is largely a forlorn hope. It is the need to preserve the ability and the will of the Jews to defend themselves—and not the empty rhetoric heard on Holocaust Memorial Day—that is the true lesson of Auschwitz.

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