Lessons unlearned…writes Michael Kuttner
April 17, 2015 by Michael Kuttner
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The eerie sound of a wailing siren throughout the length and breadth of the country drives home in no uncertain manner exactly what Yom Hashoah (Holocaust and Martyrs Remembrance Day) is all about.
From the youngest toddlers in kindergarten through to the most elderly, this annual commemoration causes at least 80% of the population to stand in silent contemplation of the disasters inflicted on the Jewish People not so many years ago. Wherever one may be and regardless of what one may be doing as the sirens wail, most citizens and visitors stop whatever they are doing and remember. Schools have spent the preceding week teaching the history of the Holocaust and many high school students have been to Poland on trips to the sites of the genocide. There are hardly any Jewish families untouched by the tragedies enacted in Europe. Even those who are fortunate enough to have had no relatives murdered feel the unbelievable sadness of this day.
Television stations screen documentaries and films associated with the Holocaust and ceremonies are held in every community. The emotional impact of a whole country commemorating six million martyrs, including one and a half million children, is powerful indeed and there can be hardly a dry eye on this memorial day.
Despite the apparent gloom there amazingly is also a positive side. In a week we will be celebrating the resurrection of the Jewish Nation. I always think on this occasion of my own family members who were murdered. As they were rounded up, transported in overcrowded trains and finally gassed at Auschwitz they and millions of other Jews could never have imagined in their wildest dreams that three short years after the defeat of the evil Nazis and their willing helpers there would be a Jewish State. None of them could envisage in the midst of degradation, humiliation and death that the Jewish People would rise from the dust and re-establish their sovereignty once again in the ancient land of their ancestors.
Yet in a modern-day miracle of Biblical proportions not only did this occur, despite every prophet of doom and with forces of hate determined to complete the genocide, the Jews prevailed. Today’s Israel is indeed a miracle. It is the most potent answer to those who wished to destroy us. In fact my personal opinion is that the best and most effective tribute we can pay to those murdered by genocidal hate is to strengthen ourselves and our country by all means possible.
This brings me to some disturbing developments which should concern us all. Surely after just seventy years we need to be aware of events that threaten to repeat the disasters of the past and which must be combated by all of us.
Holocaust denial is on the increase worldwide. Combined with rising Jew hatred by those who wish to indulge in historical revisionism the threats we face are multiplying. It is bad enough when an ignorant, hypocritical and uncaring world turns its collective back on the Jewish State but it is much worse when disconnected Jews do the same. Those who think that they are safe in their own countries of domicile because they distance themselves from Israel, are as blind and deaf to reality as those who thought pre war that distancing themselves from their fellow Jews would guarantee their safety.
Every country at the United Nations which plays along with the morally corrupt majority in their Israel bashing fiestas is guilty of being an accessory to future genocide. Each UN member country which excuses, ignores and fudges human rights violations by States known to be serial abusers and instead picks on the Middle East’s only true democracy is guilty of selective cynical double standards.
ISIS Islamic fanatics are massacring Palestinian Arab refugees in Syria and the world stands mute and impotent. Why there should even still be Arab refugees 67 years after they failed to destroy the new Jewish State is of course another scandal of immense proportions. Where are the screaming leftist liberal protesters who at the drop of a hat take to the streets, riot in universities and advocate boycotts of Israel? As Moslems murder Moslems, women and children included, a strange silence envelopes those who normally are frenetically frothing against the Jewish State. Where are the editorials, media mania and denunciations by religious leaders? The Pope to his credit has raised his voice against the murder of Christians but he is a lone voice. Where is the outraged voice of New Zealand urging the useless UN Security Council into action?
Who still agitates for the rescue of the Nigerian Christian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram?
The latest example of lessons unlearned occurred this week. The Pope bravely stated that the Turkish murder of 1.5 million Armenians at the beginning of the 20th. Century was the century’s first genocide. His remarks immediately caused Turkey which has never acknowledged its genocidal culpability to recall its Ambassador from the Vatican. In a perfect example of why the UN is a failed organisation, the Secretary-General, Ban Ki Moon, denied that the Turks were guilty of genocide and instead called this event “atrocity crimes.” This desperate attempt to appease Turkey and fudge history merely repeats the mistakes of the past. It fits neatly into the same pathetic pattern as appeasing Iran and others whose declared aims are the murder of Jews and the elimination of their country. If UN members cannot summon up the moral courage to call the murder of 1.5 million Armenians genocide then the lessons of the recent past have definitely not been learnt.
As we stand in silent tribute this week for all those who never had the means to defend themselves against pure evil we should resolve to never let this happen again.
The quote, “guard me from my friends, from my enemies I will guard myself” seems more apt than ever.
Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel and is J-Wire’s correspondent in the region.