Because Holocaust Memorial Day is an opportunity to remind ourselves.
Of what has happened; that there are those who would deny what’s happened; that there are those who would do it again; and there are those who would share some of their words and memes, cos part of the hatred suits them.
This year, we particularly reminded ourselves of Darfur, Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, and the Nazi persecution. Genocides, and the Holocaust.
Especially, the power of words.
I was always a science student more than arts & language.
Yet 40 years on, I still remember first hearing that poem “First, they came for the Communists …”. There are no doubt more powerful poems, but it was pretty up there for me. And I heard it first in a school corridor.
Powerful words for the good.
Other words, not always so good.
The words and the images that drove a man to drive a car into Muslims meeting outside a mosque in Finsbury Park.
Two lists I’ve found useful recently.
I’m grateful for a working definition of contemporary examples of Anti-Semitism.
Cos when a Facebook “friend” shared a meme of a Rothschild, with the phrase “He creates our currency”, I can easily say that’s –
“Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, …, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the … economy …”
Cos when famous people cite examples of some Zionists co-operating with Nazis in Hungary all those years ago, without pointing out how atypical any forms of cooperation was, that’s –
“Denying the … scope … of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany …”
When a barrister, with more power of words that I might have, attacks what’s happening in the Middle East with reference to the people who died in the Holocaust with dignity, that’s –
“Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”
I’m grateful too for the film “Denial. It came out in February 2017.
An academic whose life was almost ruined because she would not debate with holocaust denier, David Irving.
Back in 1980, I was with people who shouted David Irving down. I was so grateful for that film.
Grateful for that barrister. Grateful for that academic.
A new list at a meeting at the National Holocaust Centre in July, to commemorate the Srebenica massacre of Muslims and to pledge what would we do if there was no signs of genocide.
Of 11 pledges, the pledge I was to read out –
“When we see persecution, we will do everything in our power to protect those who are suffering.”
Then the open anti-Semitism at Charlottesville in August.
Hordes of white men shouting “the Jews will not replace us.
And the counter-protests; we should remember Heather Heyer, killed when a car was driven into the crowd.
Then, Myanmar and the Rohingya.
MPs were quick to demand action on the foreign minister.
and it’s happening on Aung San Suu Kyi’s watch.
Not yet it seems declared officially as a genocide.
So lots happening in the last year.
So as we lights our candles, we should reflect on the power of words.
And resolve –
– to remind ourselves that there is still a fight to be won,
– to inform each other of what’s happening, and what we already have to equip us, so that when we see or hear the words,
– we act.