International Holocaust Day: #neveragain?

Today we remember the Holocaust, a genocide under the Nazi’s which killed an estimated six million Jewish people, two million Romani people, a quarter of a million mentally and physically disabled people and nine thousand homosexual men. Today we honour the memory of these individuals; their personalities, their stories, their hopes, passions and talents, all of which were robbed from them, and replaced with just a number. These individuals were crushed in the name of an ideology, a vision of a pure race and control of a nation.

When the Nazi’s came to power in Germany in 1933, there were large Jewish populations living in Eastern and Western Europe. In the East, Jewish communities were a minority, and kept to their own language, Yiddish, and culture, although younger Jews were beginning to adopt more modern ways to dress. In the West, Jewish communities made up a much smaller percentage of the population and tended to adopt the culture of their non-Jewish neighbours, in dress, language and culture. Jews were found in all walks of European life; some rich, although many poor. They were farmers, tailors, accountants and doctors. And then they were victims.

The Holocaust has significant contemporary relevance and learning from the mistakes made in history should prevent us from making these same mistakes again.

But we haven’t learnt from our mistakes. History is repeating itself. Before the Holocaust, countries had the chance to welcome Jewish refugees into their countries, instead, many tightened immigration restrictions. Today, we continue to shut our borders on those who are seeking freedom from persecution, war and terror. Millions of refugees are currently stuck in transit in Europe. Refugees suffer at the hands of political inaction and a discourse controlled by policy makers which separates ‘us’ from ‘them’. As President Trump begins his time in power, he intends to build a physical wall to prevent migrants crossing the border from Mexico.

We haven’t learnt from our mistakes. History is repeating itself. The recent closure of the ‘Jungle’ refugee camp in Calais left unaccompanied minors with a broken promise. A promise made by the UK to protect them from the cold, the people smugglers, and the many other risks that come with living exposed without the protection of family. The UK took 10,000 Jewish refugees from the Kindertransport before the outbreak of World War Two. That is compared to the 187 Syrian refugees who have been granted asylum in the UK since the outbreak of the war Syria.

We haven’t learnt from our mistakes. History is repeating itself. We said ‘never again’ after the Holocaust. We said ‘never again’ after the Bangladesh Genocide in 1971, the Rwandan Genocide of 1972 and 1994. We said ‘never again’ after the Bosnian Genocide of 1992. And we think we can say ‘never again’ after the loss of so many civilian lives in Aleppo, this year?

We must stop history repeating itself and we must take lessons away from these horrific events. International Holocaust Day give us this opportunity. We must remember the value and the memory of every individual that died in the Holocaust. We must learn to stand up and for what is right, we must defend the rights of minority and persecuted groups. We must have more sympathy towards refugees and not turn away from their cries for help.

More on Netanyahu’s ridiculous Holocaust Statements

Amin al Husseini und Adolf Hitler

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparked controversy on Tuesday at the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, when he accused a Palestinian religious leader of being behind the idea of the Holocaust. Netanyahu insisted that Hitler had only wanted to expel Jews from Europe until he met Mufti Haj Amin Al-Husseini in 1941, who inspired and convinced Hitler to exterminate European Jews instead.

Netanyahu told the audience:

“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews and Haj Amin Husseini went up to him and said if you expel them, they’ll all come here (Palestine)…’So what shall I do with them?’ he (Hitler) asked, ‘burn them’ (Husseini responded).”

Extremely inaccurate and inflammatory, Netanyahu’s rhetoric has received great attention from world leaders and from the public through social media. His claims have been mocked and were met with outrage all over the world, as well as in Israel and among the Jewish community.

It is clear that Netanyahu is exploiting a terrible historical crime for a political advantage and to further spread his anti Palestinian propaganda. This dangerous historical distortion that Netanyahu has created, does not sit well with leading scholars and historians of the Holocaust and with the German government. German chancellor Angela Merkel later went on to clarify that Nazi Germany was very much responsible for the Holocaust which is apart of German History and nothing could change that. By attempting to put Palestinians at the center of the Holocaust, Netanyahu continues to demonize the Palestinian community and more dangerously, tries to change history for political purposes.

Mufti Haj Amin Al-Husseini was the former grand mufti of Jerusalem and a Palestinian nationalist leader from 1921 to 1937, he was known for his anti Zionist view and although he allied himself with Hitler, there is no evidence to suggest that he told Hitler to persecute Jews. Not only have scholars and historians examined the minutes and transcript of the meeting between Hitler and Al-Husseini where there is no mention of exterminating Jews, but also Hitler only met Al-Husseini in November 1941, months after the mass killing of Jews in concentration camps had already begun. So where exactly did Netanyahu get these words from? Or is he fabricating dialogue?

The uproar caused by Netanyahu’s remarks continues as he currently visits Berlin to meet U.S. secretary of State John Kerry and Angela Merkel to discuss the recent rise in violence between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian protesters.

It is unlikely that Netanyahu’s words will be forgotten and it is clear that he will have a hard time fixing what he broke.