Baroness Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and vice president of the European Commission, issued a statement this week marking international Holocaust Remembrance Day.
It was commendable that the EU at all chose to note the day, but what Ashton said on its behalf on Monday was surreal. She managed to use 121 words without ever mentioning Jews. Her glaring omission is quite remarkable.
Ashton even lauded “all those who acted with courage and sacrifice to protect their fellow citizens against persecution.”
But who were these nameless “fellow citizens”? It is highly doubtful that Ashton’s lapse is inadvertent.
Not everything can be ascribed to unintentional slipups.
The bizarre homage Europe’s spokeswoman paid to “every one of those brutally murdered in the darkest period of European history,” without any reference to their identity, strains common sense.
Perhaps Europe in general and Ashton in particular find Holocaust Remembrance Day a troublesome, even a disagreeable burden. Hence Ashton obscured the Jewish context with a short collection of hackneyed platitudes on tolerance and human rights.
This is a cogent example of how Holocaust history is increasingly watered down, especially in Europe. Yesteryear’s physical destruction is followed by today’s distortion of remembrance.
This serves two purposes.
First, it seems to clear European nations – not just the chief genocide perpetrators, but those that collaborated and/or profited from the industrial extermination of the Jews. By robbing the Holocaust of its uniqueness and likening it to any subsequent, yet very different ethnic massacre, it becomes less of a moral stain. Any corollary obligation to the Jewish people is thereby expunged.
Second, the disingenuous pretense that the Holocaust’s victims were anonymous and faceless reduces friction with the Arab/Muslim world, which chafes against Holocaust commemoration lest it even theoretically imply sympathy for Jews.
Not mentioning who the six million were and why Europe’s resplendent cultures systematically put them to death appeases elements in the Islamic world – Iran foremost – that don’t conceal their sympathy for the Nazi genocide. It is often overlooked that Hitler’s toxic Mein Kampf is a bestseller in most Muslim lands.
The Holocaust was blueprinted against Jews. Not every last victim was Jewish but every Jew on earth was earmarked for death.
This was plotted against no other group – not even gypsies, some of whom were persecuted but others left alone. It was haphazard. Much depended on way of life, on place of residence. Ancestry, however, was not an instant irreversible death sentence for gypsies. Only for Jews.
Only Jews were singled out for eradication because of “tainted” lineage. Their life choices were irrelevant. Even social climbers who betrayed the Jewish collective, who turned their backs on their heritage and despised fellow Jews, were killed. Nothing could save anyone deemed too Jewish to live.
Ashton’s mind-boggling omission is all too reminiscent of her 2012 remarks on the murder of innocent Jewish children in Toulouse, where she was biased and incredibly insensitive.
She managed then to lump together the casualties of a bus crash in Switzerland (where 20 Belgian children died), youngsters caught up in assorted armed conflicts and, without specificity, “what happened in Toulouse.”
She equated the point-blank shootings in France of three small Jewish children and the father of two of them with an assortment of unrelated misfortunes. She plainly diminished the barbarity of the Toulouse crime.
The Toulouse victims were not felled by a stroke of bad luck. They were marked for execution with malice aforethought in the extreme. The victims’ sole crime was that they were born to Jewish parents – just like the million-and- a-half Jewish children slaughtered in the Holocaust.
In both instances Ashton feigned ignorance. This moral obtuseness evidences anything but upright impartiality.
The same can be said for the EU, since Ashton speaks for it. Such moral blindness cannot be ignored when assessing EU attitudes toward the Jewish state.