BY RON JAGER—
In a article published last week on a Yeshiva University affiliated website called “The Beacon”, entitled “Why its time for Jews to Get Over the Holocaust”, it was suggested that now is the time that Jews move on and stop making the Holocaust the most pivotal event in Jewish history. The author suggests that the Holocaust is unnecessarily singled out as if it’s more special than other historical events, he continues and states that although the Holocaust was on a much greater scale and horrifically well-organized, it was far from the first incident of a dominant power killing those deemed “inferior” on trumped up charges. As far as this Yeshiva University student is concerned, mankind has been perpetrating horrible atrocities on each other for centuries. He seems genuinely puzzled as to why Holocaust denial is considered a crime in over a dozen countries. Surely, for this learned Yeshiva Bucher, this is an overreaction. Do we arrest those that believe and express the opinion that the world is flat he ponders? Why denial of a historical event should even be considered a crime, something detrimental to society, he asks again and again. Denying the significance and uniqueness of the Holocaust is no different than denying that the world is round, so he believes.
Historical events, as earth-shattering and history-ending as they seem at the time, eventually fade from the forefront of public consciousness and became memory. When holocaust survivors will no longer be around, and when there is no more opportunity to let children and educators hear firsthand testimony of the Holocaust, will the Holocaust be just another event studied in world history classes? With all of the effort that has gone into recording testimonies of the Holocaust be enough to preserve historical memory in terms of the magnitude and uniqueness of the Holocaust? There are few historical events that have undergone greater scrutiny and preservation. Perhaps we can even acknowledge that we’ve done enough to ensure that the Holocaust can never be forgotten. In a moral world, in a world that differentiates between good and evil, right and wrong, this kind of preservation of historical memory would probably suffice. However, today in the age of globalization in which everything is viewed through the prism of cultural relativism, facts and evidence are not enough, the enemies of the Jews and of Israel not only claim that the Jews exaggerate and that the Holocaust was made up so as to justify the establishment of the State of
Israel, but they claim that Israel itself is implementing a Holocaust on the Arabs living within Judea and Samaria.
This provocative article questioning the uniqueness of the Holocaust and posted on a website affiliated with Yeshiva University is a sign that the orthodox community is not immune from the politically correct triviality of the Holocaust and acceptance of universalism as the intellectual context of interpreting world events. Jewish identity that ignores or belittles or “moves beyond” the systematic attempt to exterminate the Jewish race seventy years ago cannot possibly fathom the significance and importance of the establishment of the State of Israel. The Jewish people made a conscience effort to rebuild out of the ashes.Those that regard the Holocaust as just another unfortunate event cannot be depended on to understand that for modern Israel, in order to deal with existential threats, Israel must do whatever is necessary so that “never again” will not remain an empty slogan.
Those that compare the Holocaust and the Flat Earth Society should be reminded what the Holocaust is all about;
In Daniel Mendelsohn’s recent The Lost, A Search for Six of Six Million, he describes in detail the core horror of Nazi action in collaboration with locals in Bolechow, Poland, September 1942:
|A terrible episode happened with Mrs. Grynberg. The Ukrainians and Germans, who had broken into her house, found her giving birth. The weeping and entreaties of bystanders didn’t help and she was taken from her home in a nightshirt and dragged into the square in front of the town hall. There… she was dragged onto a dumpster in the yard of the town hall with a crowd of Ukrainians present, who cracked jokes and jeered and watched the pain of childbirth and she gave birth to a child. The child was immediately torn from her arms along with its umbilical cord and thrown – It was trampled by the crowd and she was stood on her feet as blood poured out of her with bleeding bits hanging and she stood that way for a few hours by the wall of the town hall, afterwards she went with all the others to the train station Where they loaded her into a carriage in a train to Belzec..|
In every generation, the Jewish nation has had to deal with the threat of annihilation. In ancient Egypt, it seemed that the Jews would be gone. In ancient Persia, it looked like Haman would have his way and annihilate us. As we approach the coming week, Purim the festival of celebration and joy, commemorating the saving of the Jews from extermination at the hands of the Persians. The Jewish people were saved. All of these so-called great empires have disappeared and against all odds, we the Jewish nation are still around. Not just surviving, but thriving. The enormity of the Holocaust, with the majority of European Jewry being systemically murdered, is a singular event that defies comparison in the last millennium.
In retrospect, the Holocaust compels Jews to confront their own Jewishness. After such unspeakable events such as described above, every Jew must look inside and
consider: Hitler tried to exterminate my people and the world stood by in silence. Will I, through apathy and indifference, become a partner to Hitler? Or will my life convey a testimony to the glory of the Jewish people and our resurrection from the ashes? This is the reason that why it’s not the time for Jews to get over and move beyond the Holocaust.
Ron Jager, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer. Prior to retiring in 2005, he served as the Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Psycho education programs to communities in the North and South of Israel. Today Ron is a strategic advisor to the Shomron Liaison Office.
* The writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer and Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring from active duty, he provides consultancy services to NGO’s implementing Psycho trauma and Psychoeducation programs to communities in the North and South of Israel and is a strategic advisor to the Director of the Shomron Liaison Office.Thanks and appreciation to Rabbi David Friedman of Congregation Darchei Noam and a senior Rabbi and Educator on Holocaust studies at DRS High School in 5 Towns.