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April 16, 2015 3

Yom Hashoah: The Renewed Importance of Remembering


Holo­caust Remem­brance Day is com­mem­o­rated each year a week after the end of the Passover hol­i­day, a day when the world pauses  to remem­ber the Holo­caust, the mil­lions who died and those who lived on, many to tell their sto­ries to a gen­er­a­tion born more than half a cen­tury later. To the younger among us, the Holo­caust can feel like ancient his­tory. Why is it impor­tant that we remem­ber? And why do we con­tinue to utter the man­date of Never Again, when the real­ity is that geno­cide has occurred again and again in parts of the world today.

It is often said that our youngest gen­er­a­tion will be the last to meet and hear sur­vivors tell their own sto­ries, and those that have this priv­i­lege are unlikely to ever for­get it. There are impor­tant lessons to be learned from sur­vivors’ words and expe­ri­ences, lessons that still have rel­e­vance to stu­dents’ lives today. One impor­tant les­son is about the ten­dency of hate to esca­late when it is unchecked.  When we wit­ness every­day acts of insen­si­tiv­ity, bias or intol­er­ance, it’s easy to turn our backs and walk away, to avoid get­ting involved. Many did just that in Europe sev­enty years ago, and that sub­tle bias was able to grow and fes­ter like a can­cer.  A wise per­son once reminded us that the Holo­caust did not begin at the gates of con­cen­tra­tion camps. It began with words – words that grew into prej­u­dice and then acts of dis­crim­i­na­tion and bias-motivated vio­lence and finally genocide.

We remem­ber the Holo­caust because of our hope that the world will never go through dark­ness as deep as that, but also because we know that the mil­lions who did not sur­vive to tell their sto­ries took with them a world of lost pos­si­bil­i­ties. They would want to know that they were not for­got­ten. And because today’s youth will be the last to hear sur­vivors speak in per­son, there is a renewed impor­tance to find­ing new ways to keep their sto­ries alive.

But how do we do that?  And how do we inspire in one another the moti­va­tion to make Never Again the real­ity the world longs for?  We can begin by tak­ing a moment wher­ever we are to remem­ber those who died. We can be wit­nesses who carry on the sto­ries we have heard to oth­ers.  We can ensure that stu­dents today have oppor­tu­ni­ties to reflect on the lessons of the Holo­caust and to hear the sto­ries of sur­vivors, resisters and res­cuers.  And we can take the time to stop and take a stand against the insen­si­tive, biased and intol­er­ant words and acts that hap­pen around us. Work­ing together, we may even turn the hope of Never Again into a global reality.

Yom Hashoah will be observed on the fol­low­ing dates:

Thurs­day, April 16, 2015 Thurs­day, May 5, 2016 Mon­day, April 24, 2017 Thurs­day, April 12, 2018

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April 2, 2015 9

AFA Radio Host Bryan Fischer Tweets Offensive Holocaust Analogy

Bryan Fis­cher, a radio host and blog­ger for the Amer­i­can Fam­ily Asso­ci­a­tion (AFA), tweeted an offen­sive Holo­caust anal­ogy on April 1. Fis­cher likened the tem­po­rary clo­sure of a restau­rant in Indi­ana, whose own­ers said they would refuse to cater a gay wed­ding, to Kristall­nacht, a vio­lent pogrom car­ried out by Nazi storm troop­ers in Ger­many and Aus­tria in 1938.  Kristall­nacht led to the destruc­tion of thou­sands of Jew­ish syn­a­gogues, homes and busi­nesses as well as arrests and the deaths of Jews and opened the door to the per­se­cu­tion and destruc­tion of Euro­pean Jewry. Fis­cher also blamed the restaurant’s deci­sion to close due to the public’s neg­a­tive reac­tion on the “Gay Gestapo.”

Bryan Fischer

Bryan Fis­cher

In Jan­u­ary 2015, the AFA dis­missed Fis­cher as a spokesper­son for the orga­ni­za­tion but he con­tin­ues to host a radio show for the AFA and to write blogs on the AFA web­site that demo­nize the LGBT community.

Fis­cher often invokes the Holo­caust to dis­cuss con­tem­po­rary Amer­i­can polit­i­cal issues, par­tic­u­larly with regard to the LGBT com­mu­nity. He has made a num­ber of state­ments liken­ing LGBT activists to Nazis and con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­tians to Jews who were per­se­cuted under Hitler’s regime. He also com­pared the Supreme Court to Nazis after it struck down the Defense of Mar­riage Act in 2013.

There is no com­par­i­son between cur­rent polit­i­cal issues and the actions of Hitler’s regime dur­ing the Holo­caust. Such inap­pro­pri­ate analo­gies only serve to triv­i­al­ize the Holo­caust and are deeply offen­sive to Jews and other sur­vivors, as well as those Amer­i­cans who fought valiantly against the Nazis dur­ing World War II.

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February 26, 2015 4

Mein Kampf Back on German Bookshelves – The Right Way

For the first time since the end of World War II, Hitler’s man­i­festo, Mein Kampf, will be avail­able for sale in Ger­many. The 2,000-page edi­tion includes exten­sive foot­notes and his­toric anno­ta­tions deemed crit­i­cal by the Ger­man Gov­ern­ment to the book being viewed in its appro­pri­ate context.adolf-hitler-mein-kampf-book

In a Jan­u­ary 2014 Op-Ed in the New York Daily News, Anti-Defamation League National Direc­tor, Abra­ham H. Fox­man pre­sciently said,” As an impor­tant his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ment, “Mein Kampf” must remain avail­able to the pub­lic — but not with­out the essen­tial sup­ple­men­tary texts; the intro­duc­tions and adden­dums that put Hitler’s writ­ings into con­text and explain their rel­e­vance today.”

The Ger­man Government’s hand was forced on the issue when data came out that Mein Kampf was the top down­loaded polit­i­cal sci­ence book on Ama­zon in 2013.  It has been read­ily avail­able on many ser­vices out­side Ger­many, where access by Ger­man cit­i­zens can­not be pre­vented. Addi­tion­ally, the copy­right on Mein Kampf expires this Decem­ber which would make it freely avail­able all across the Internet.

Major online book retail­ers such as Ama­zon and Barnes & Noble have worked with ADL over the years to place edi­to­r­ial reviews on Mein Kampf and other anti-Semitic works such as The Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion and The Inter­na­tional Jew to ensure that cus­tomers fully under­stand the authors’ back­ground, intent, con­text and any issues sur­round­ing the pub­li­ca­tions.  Rec­og­niz­ing that Mein Kampf will be read­ily avail­able in Ger­many and can be an impor­tant edu­ca­tional tool, it is appro­pri­ate to acknowl­edge and sup­port the Ger­man Government’s insis­tence upon pro­vid­ing the nec­es­sary context.

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