World Marks Holocaust Remembrance Day, Commemorating WWII Nazi Genocide Of European Jewry
Series of memorial events held across Israel on one of year’s most somber days
All of Israel on Thursday came to a complete standstill for two minutes at 10:00 AM local time, as sirens blared throughout the country; not, mind you, as an all-too-familiar warning of incoming rocket fire, but, rather, to mark Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, which commemorates the genocide of European Jewry during World War Two. The conflict resulted in the deaths of some 40 million people, including the systematic murder of 6,000,000 Jews at the hands of Hitler’s Nazi war machine.
In Israel, home to approximately 200,000 Holocaust survivors, all shops, restaurants and businesses shut down Wednesday evening, ushering in one of the most somber days of the year. The next morning, ceremonies were held across the nation, with an official event held at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem—The World Holocaust Remembrance Center.
This Holocaust Remembrance Day takes place on the backdrop of a re-emergence of anti-Semitism globally, especially in Europe, which is becoming less hospitable to Jews with every passing day. This, in turn, has led to a major increase in Aliya, a Hebrew word denoting Jewish immigration to Israel whose literal translation is “ascent.”
Indeed many contend that the Holocaust could not have been perpetrated had Israel existed then, or if the British had permitted Jews entry into Mandatory Palestine which had been designated the future homeland of the Jewish people. In fact, nearly every state shut its doors to Jews even as it became apparent that the Nazis were shipping them off to the gas chambers.
“None is too many”—a reference to the then-prevailing policy—is as poignant a refrain as “Never Again,” a moniker that is assuming greater significance in light of renewed genocidal calls against the Jews emanating from Tehran, which is on the precipice of developing the means to carry out its threats.
Moreover, just 45 miles from Israel’s northern border resides the butcher of Damascus, who this week again is believed to have deployed chemical weapons against his own people. The carnage inflicted on Syria—half a million dead, millions more injured and over ten million displaced—by Bashar al-Assad, along with his Russian and Iranian backers, suggests that the international community has not learned the lessons of the Holocaust.
History may, in fact, be doomed to repeat itself; that is, unless mankind comes to embrace the notion that, with the advent of the technological era and the creation of a “global village,” everyone is inter-connected.
Perhaps not one and the same, but bound, for the most part, by a common humanity.
Such an appreciation might finally lead to the mobilization of all forces that are good, with a view to erasing the evil that continues to thrive in our midst.