do not mention Yom HaShoah if...
IF, IN THE NEXT BREATH, YOU CHANT TO "GLOBALIZE THE INTIFADA"
The Second Intifada was a Palestinian “uprising” that lasted between 2000 and 2005.
Palestinians used a variety of tactics during the Second Intifada, including stabbings, drive by shootings, missiles, hand grenades, land mines, car bombs, and, most notably, 141 suicide bombings between 2000-2005.
Over 1000 Israelis were brutally massacred during the Second Intifada, 80% of them civilians. Among the dead were elderly Holocaust survivors, infants only a few days old, pregnant women, tourists, foreign workers, young children, students, and Israelis of all religious backgrounds and ethnicities (Arabs, Jews, Druze, etc). Virtually every Israeli family — Jewish or not — was touched in one way or another by the Second Intifada.
During the Second Intifada, Palestinian groups recruited children as militants in a number of ways; most notably and devastatingly, at least nine suicide bombings were carried out by Palestinian children.
Targeting civilians — as suicide bombers predominantly did during the Intifada — is a war crime, with no qualification or exception. Half of the world’s Jews live in Israel. Legitimizing or excusing the murder of half of the world’s Jews is no less genocidal than what the Nazis did. Indeed, in 1941, Nazi Germany “recognized the right” of the Arabs to solve “the Jewish problem” in Palestine, just as Germany was doing in Europe.
When you chant to “globalize the Intifada,” you are chanting to globalize violence against Jews. Let’s be honest here: no one is chanting to globalize violence against Israeli Arabs or other Israeli minorities. They mean Jews. We know this because they target synagogues, other Jewish institutions, and more.
IF, IN THE NEXT BREATH, YOU CALL HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS COLONIZERS IN THEIR OWN ANCESTRAL HOMELAND
Let’s pretend, for a second, that Jews have no ancestral and Indigenous claim to the Land of Israel.
Holocaust survivors arrived to Israel as refugees. Not only that, but (1) no other country was willing to take them in (neither did Palestinian Arabs, who pressured the British to pass severe antisemitic anti-immigration laws), and (2) because Jewish immigration was illegal, they arrived via illegal means.
How is it that, in one breath, you support the absorption of refugees in the United States, but you think Holocaust survivors who arrived as refugees to Israel are “colonizers”? Is the United States not stolen land? How is it that you chant “no human being is illegal,” but you accuse Holocaust refugees who risked everything to reach the land of their ancestors of being “illegal colonizers”? How is it that you lambast the United States for not taking Jewish refugees prior to World War II, but Holocaust refugees in Israel are “colonizers”?
Like Jews did for 2000 years, Holocaust survivors also dreamt of their ancestral homeland. In concentration camps, they sang “HaTikvah” — The Hope — which later became the Israeli national anthem. After the war, in a poll of 19,000 Jewish Displaced Persons, 97 percent of them stated they wanted to go to Palestine. When asked for a second choice, as many as 25 percent in some camps said “crematorium.”
You cannot claim to care about Holocaust victims and survivors if you only care for them in abstract terms, instead of caring for their dreams, their aspirations, their (Jewish) peoplehood, and their humanity.
IF, IN THE NEXT BREATH, YOU CLAIM JEWS ARE DOING TO PALESTINIANS WHAT WAS DONE TO US
First of all, this is utterly inaccurate. The Holocaust was a genocide that decimated the Jewish population in six years. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an inter-ethnic conflict over territory.
In a genocide, the targeted population declines sharply in a short period of time. Six million Jews — 2/3s of Europe’s Jewish population — were exterminated over the span of less than six years. To this day, 78 years later, the worldwide Jewish population has not recovered. Not only has the Palestinian population grown exponentially since 1948, but the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict has claimed the lives of ~55,000 Palestinians (at the hands of Israel) over the past 75 years. The US war on Afghanistan (2001-2021) and the Syrian Civil War (2011-present), for example, took exponentially more lives over a much, much shorter period.
Holocaust inversion is the act of depicting Jews and/or Israelis as Nazis, crypto-Nazis, or “worse than Nazis.” Holocaust inversion is a form of Holocaust revisionism, and, as such, is inherently a form of Holocaust denial.
It’s important to understand that Holocaust inversion actually predates the establishment of the State of Israel, the 1947-1949 Palestine Civil War and Israeli War of Independence, and the Nakba.
Holocaust inversion has its roots in the British Foreign Office during the period of the British Mandate of Palestine. In March of 1945 — about two months before the Nazis even surrendered — the High Commissioner of Palestine, Lord Gort, told the Colonial Secretary in London that “the establishment of any Jewish State in Palestine…will almost inevitably mean the rebirth of National Socialism [i.e. Nazism] in some guise.”
Sir John Bagot Glubb, who later became the British Commander of the Jordanian Arab Legion during the 1948 war, wrote in a 1946 memorandum to the British government that the “new Jews” (i.e. Jewish refugees) had copied Nazi techniques and adopted Hitler’s master race theory. Unsurprisingly, Glubb was a virulent antisemite who considered Jews “unlikeable, aggressive, stiff-necked, vengeful, and imbued with the idea of [being] a superior race.”
IF, IN THE NEXT BREATH, YOU ACCUSE JEWS OF NOT "LEARNING OUR LESSON" FROM THE HOLOCAUST
Since the earliest instances of Holocaust inversion, antisemites have made the implication that Jews did not “learn our lesson” from the Holocaust. The Holocaust did not happen because of our behavior; it happened because of the behavior of others.
This, of course, is a repugnant assertion. The Holocaust was an industrial genocide on a never-before-seen mass scale that eradicated over 60 percent of Europe’s Jewry in the span of less than six years. In some countries, such as Poland and Lithuania, over 90 percent of the Jewish population was exterminated. It was not a “lesson” for us to learn. To this day, numbers-wise, the total Jewish population of the world has not recovered. Culturally, communally, and psychologically, we have not recovered either. To frame the Holocaust as a moral lesson for Jews is antisemitic, and the implication that we learned the “wrong lesson” is even worse, as this gives an opening to the repugnant line of thinking that perhaps it would’ve been better if the Jews had not survived at all. In fact, this is a common sentiment among many (though of course not all) anti-Zionists worldwide — the idea that Hitler should’ve finished his job to prevent future Palestinian suffering.
In his monumental “A Study of History,” Arnold Toynbee claimed that Jewish Zionists in Palestine were much worse than their “Nazi teachers” because they had “knowingly chosen to imitate them.” He further wrote, “The lesson they learned was not to eschew but to imitate the evil deeds committed by the Nazis against them.”
I repeat: the Holocaust was a genocide that decimated the Jewish community. It was not a “lesson” for us to learn. There is no “silver lining” to the Holocaust, no “moral of the story.”
Anyway, if there’s anything at all that Jews learned from the Holocaust it is that the world will watch us get slaughtered and (1) not lift a finger, and/or (2) somehow justify it, as we see today when Jews are murdered in Israel.
IF, IN THE NEXT BREATH, YOU FEEL THE NEED TO UNIVERSALIZE THE HOLOCAUST
The Holocaust refers specifically to the genocide of six million Jews and about one million Roma and Sinti at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators. Though the Nazis targeted many groups, only Jews, and later Roma and Sinti, were subject to the policies of the Final Solution. Additionally, the persecution of many other groups, such as communists and homosexuals, was rooted in antisemitism, as the Nazis believed that communism and homosexuality were Jewish plots to disintegrate Aryan society.
Yom HaShoah is, explicitly, the Jewish Holocaust Remembrance Day. Roma have their own Holocaust Remembrance Day on August second.
The Holocaust was not a crime done onto humanity; it was a crime very specifically and intentionally done onto Jews. The Holocaust wouldn’t have been possible without the 2000 years of European antisemitism that preceded it. Antisemitism was not a byproduct of Nazism; it was the very core of it. Nazi antisemitism was not new: the tropes were not new, the conspiracies were not new, even the racialization of antisemitism was not new. The Holocaust was possible because of the ancient antisemitic conditions that allowed for widespread collaboration and complicity.
The populations of Germany and the Axis-occupied territories were complicit because antisemitism was not new to them either. They might’ve hated the Nazis, but they hated the Jews even more. So they allowed it to happen. The Allies did not intervene on behalf of the Jews because they, too, were antisemitic.
The Holocaust couldn’t have happened to “anyone.”* To “All Lives Matter” the Holocaust is ahistorical and disingenuous. The driving force of the Holocaust was — very specifically and intentionally — antisemitism.
*that is not to say that others haven’t experienced genocide, because obviously they have.
IF, IN THE NEXT BREATH, YOU MISREPRESENT JEWISH IDENTITY, JEWISH HISTORY, AND JEWISH CULTURE
The Nazis massacred Jews for being Jews. The least you can do is honor their Jewish identity and culture on Yom HaShoah.
When people first approach me to learn about antisemitism — say, someone who is starting from zero — I always ask them to learn about Jews first. I have a few reasons: (1) you cannot possibly understand our oppression if you don’t understand who we are; (2) our existence shouldn’t be boiled down to our experience of oppression; and (3) for 2000 years, the antisemitic narrative about who we are has been louder and more predominant than our own voices when we tell you who we are.
Jews are a nation, an ethnoreligious group, and a tribe originating in what is now Israel-Palestine, verifiably (as in, scientifically proven) descended from the ancient Hebrews and Israelites. An ethnoreligious group is an ethnic group with a common religious practice. Like many ancient peoples, our peoplehood, tribal identity, and religion (Judaism) are inextricable from each other. We have a history dating back 3000 years. At various points, most Jews were exiled (ethnically cleansed) from our homeland. Culturally and spiritually, however, we remained firmly tethered to Israel, even while in the Diaspora. We make up just 0.2 percent of the world population.
This is important to understand because much of the antisemitism that Jews were subjected to in Europe — including Nazi antisemitism — was rooted in xenophobia, such as the “Wandering Jew” trope, which has its origins in thirteenth century Europe. According to legend, Jews are cursed to wander the earth until the Second Coming of Jesus, stateless, as punishment for “taunting Jesus on the cross.”
These xenophobic attitudes toward Jews very much influenced Nazi antisemitism, which was completely racialized in nature. The Nazis considered Jews *the* inferior race. They were actually quite indifferent toward the religion of Judaism — it was Jews that they had a problem with.
When you say Jews are “just a religious group” with no roots in the Middle East, you are fundamentally misrepresenting the antisemitism that fueled the Holocaust.
IF, IN THE NEXT BREATH, YOU USE THE HOLOCAUST AS A MEASURING STICK
One of the most problematic outcomes of the persistent universalization of the Holocaust is that the Holocaust is now used as a measuring stick with which to gauge oppression and/or injustice. The right and the left are both guilty of this. Don’t like abortion? It must be just like the Holocaust. Is someone else being oppressed? Surely that’s just like the Holocaust too. Out of all the tragedies in human history, it seems that only the Holocaust gets this treatment, at least on this scale. Hitler is the ultimate villain, and any bad person in the world is just like Hitler.
Holocaust victims, survivors, and their descendants are not numbers or units of measurement. We are real humans with deep and lasting trauma. When we see a person who has never once advocated for the Jewish community — or worse, has partaken in antisemitism themselves — pit our trauma against someone else’s, it’s completely dehumanizing.
The Holocaust ended just 78 years ago. Real people alive today experienced the Holocaust. The Nazis treated Jews like numbers; it’s disappointing to see people, including activists and politicians, treating our genocide like a number or a unit of measurement.
The Nazis also weaponized and exploited antisemitism to wield political power. Again, it’s disappointing to see prominent activists and politicians use the Holocaust, our trauma, as a political talking point.
IF YOU DO NOT CARE FOR JEWS TODAY
What’s the point in commemorating dead Jews if you are complicit in the marginalization of Jews living today?
The Jewish community needs support. Antisemitic hate crimes in the United States are at an all time high since 1979, when the Anti-Defamation League first started recording them. Antisemitism in Europe is also rising alarmingly. At rallies in major world cities, such as New York and London, people chant for the indiscriminate murder of Israeli Jews — that is, they chant for the indiscriminate murder of half of the world’s Jews.
Your commemoration of Yom HaShoah means very little if, in the next breath, an antisemitic trope, stereotype, and conspiracy comes out of your mouth.
The Holocaust did not start with Hitler. Or with the Nazis. It started with antisemitism, some 2000 years ago. With disinformation. The very same antisemitism and disinformation that many of you are spewing at this very moment.
“No, no, no,” you insist. “This is not about Jews. It’s about Zionists.” Do you not get it yet? Left, right, euphemism or not, it doesn’t matter. When an antisemitic conspiracy comes out of your mouth, it spreads. It festers. You are adding your little contribution to a hatred that is over two millennia old. It doesn’t matter how noble your intentions. Violent people will pick up on your words and use them to harm us. Violent people who abhor your politics but love your antisemitism. And so you’re hurting us.
A third of Holocaust survivors today live in poverty. Jews are targeted everywhere. You compare everything to the Holocaust, but you don’t tend to the destruction that the actual Holocaust left behind. Why?
So please just save it. Your commemoration of Yom HaShoah means nothing if you do not protect the Jews living today.
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