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5 Feb, 2006

Shouldn’t ‘Never Again’ Apply to All?

Originally Published: 5 Feb 2006

On 27 January, the United Nations system marked its first Holocaust memorial day at a global level.

Its overt objective is for present generations never to forget the genocide against the Jews and for future generations to remain vigilant against it ever occuring again.

But a deeper analysis will yield the indubitable conclusion that both the victims (the Jews) and the victimisers (the Europeans) have learnt few of the lessons they are supposed to have from the World War II catastrophe.

Although both sides publicly claim that they would never want to see a repeat of past mistakes, today, both are still doing unto others what they had done unto them and once did unto others.

The same lies, injustice, deception and hypocrisy that led to the massacre of millions of Jews by Hitler’s Nazi legions are being practised today, albeit in different form and on a lesser scale.

An investigative checklist of the 5-W’s yields an abundance of historical information about What happened, to Whom, When and Where, plus How, but never Why.

The over-arching question, ‘Why did Hitler kill so many Jews,’ is never adequately and objectively probed.

All historical events have many versions and interpretations, both ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’. As even the average Joe Public knows today, ‘official’ versions are not always the accurate ones.

When anyone questions the ‘official’ version of the Holocaust, the reaction among fundamentalist Jews is similar to that of the Iranian mullahs when they went after author Salman Rushdie after he wrote The Satanic Verses.

But without this crucial answer, the historical context of the Holocaust stays only selectively addressed. It also defeats the real purpose of the Holocaust memorials, viz., to create a wiser, safer, just, more humble and humane society for all, not just the Jews.

No such society exists today. Au contraire, there is plenty of evidence that history is repeating itself in the form of many mini-Holocausts in different parts of the world.

What, for example, is the difference between the ghettoes where the Jews were confined by the Nazis, and and the present ones where thousands of Palestinians are being barricaded behind an eight-metre-high concrete wall?

If this is to protect the Israelis from the “threat” of terrorist suicide-bombers who are following a “violent” religion, what kind of “threat” did Hitler perceive from the Jews that led him to barricade them in similar enclaves?

If, according to the “official” version, the Nazis’ confinement of the Jews to the ghettoes must be remembered, commemorated and condemned, for Israel to do it to the Palestinians is okay?

As the Jews also hold Europe, especially the church, accountable for ignoring the Holocaust in an attempt to appease Hitler, should Palestinians hold Europe equally accountable for doing little or nothing to end the Israeli occupation?

Today, Europe trumpets its concern for ‘human rights’ but tolerates the Israeli wall, its extra-judicial killings (which is a euphemism for state terrorism), demolition of Palestinian homes, destruction of Palestinian olive groves and curbs on their movements through dehumanising checkpoints.

It looks the other way, just like it did when Hitler was victimising the Jews.

Exactly what tangible lessons have been learnt from the consistent and persistent marketing of the Holocaust? Or is the entire exercise only to make the world feel sorry for the Jews and give them a carte blanche to do what they want?

Does the Holocaust slogan “never again” apply to everyone? Or only to the Jews?

If Israel wants the Palestinians to recognise its right to exist, why doesn’t it similarly recognise Palestinian right to sovereign statehood and offer to unilaterally withdraw, as demanded by many UN resolutions, to the borders that existed before the 1967 war?

That’s the kind of statesmanship, wisdom and courage which would be a true indicator of Holocaust lessons well-learnt.

Peace will prevail, global tensions will disappear, stock markets will boom and people will get on with their lives like never before.

Pending such a magnanimous gesture, the blame-game will continue, and columns like this will persist in asking why doesn’t Europe slap sanctions on Israel (just like it did with South Africa in the apartheid days) to force it to withdraw from all occupied lands?

Why doesn’t the Pol Pot Holocaust in Cambodia get equivalent commemorative treatment by the United Nations? If the killing of six million gets so much publicity, doesn’t the killing of three million count for anything?

The leaders of the Arab/Islamic world, too, have much to answer for.

It was only on 1 November 2005 that the U.N. General Assembly designated 27 January to be marked every year as Holocaust Remembrance Day.

But it was way back in 1977 that the General Assembly resolved to commemorate November 29 as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

Within three months of the Holocaust day resolution being passed, the event was observed by all the UN offices and commissions worldwide.

But 29 years after the Palestinian day memorial was resolved, it has yet to be observed even once!

Inspite of being confronted by such blatant double standards, the world professes to be in a state of ‘shock and awe’ when Hamas wins the Palestinian elections.

The Israelis even turn on prominent Jews like Steven Spielberg who, as he approaches the twilight of his life, has made a soul-searching movie (“Munich”) that wisely and sensibly questions whether the spiral of tit-for-tat mini-Holocausts is doing any good.

This, from the same man who made the Holocaust epic, “Schindler’s List”, a widely-hailed movie because it stuck to the ‘official’ version. By contrast, “Munich” dared to question the party-line and ran into considerable flak.

People like me for years have been arguing, nay warning, that the geopolitical web of lies, deception, double standards and hypocrisy will only lead to more anger, bitterness, frustration and violence.

The “never-again” legacy of the Holocaust has honed the Jewish survival instinct, made them powerful, smart and shrewd.

But neither wise, humble nor just.

Therein lies the source of its failure.