Thursday, January 27, 2011

When the Profound Gets Politicized

January 27 has been established as Holocaust Remembrance Day, an international day of remembering those who perished in the Holocaust. The following comes from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum site:

"January 27 marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp. In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly designated this day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD), an annual day of commemoration to honor the victims of the Nazi era. Every member nation of the U.N. has an obligation to honor the memory of Holocaust victims and develop educational programs as part of an international resolve to help prevent future acts of genocide. The U.N. resolution that created IHRD rejects denial of the Holocaust, and condemns discrimination and violence based on religion or ethnicity."

In addition

"The United States officially commemorates the Holocaust during Days of Remembrance, which is held each April, marking the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The Museum is mandated by the U.S. Congress to lead the nation in commemorating this day."

Certainly some impressive words in that UN resolution, but as Hamlet said, " it is a custom more honour'd in the breach than the observance," or perhaps we should look at Gertrude in the same play, when she says "More matter with less art."

Noticed any heartfelt observances in a whole lot of those UN member countries? Are you imagining Iran or Iraq condemning discrimination and violence based on religion or ethnicity and including Jews?

Whoever else in the world will take today to reflect on the atrocities of the Holocaust, well they are doing the right thing. But for those of us most affected by those past events, what excuse do we have for not observing this admittedly secular day of remembrance? As we proceed further and further from those hellish days, as we add generation after generation, what transpired during the Holocaust becomes murkier and murkier. For our children and grandchildren the Holocaust is history rather than definitive moment.

Perhaps it's time to pay attention to that old saying: "Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it." And then there is this: How do we expect others to remember what transpired during the Holocaust, to use this day to reflect on the horrors of history, when we, ourselves, ignore the day?

It's sad really, that the world needs one day to remember what was truly a defining event of the last century and that will have impact on the centuries to come. Sadder yet that the day will pass for many Jews without even a nod of acceptance or remembrance.

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