Members of the young Jewish community attend a commemoration ceremony for Holocaust victims in front of the synagogue in Vienna [File].
(photo credit: REUTERS)
‘Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair,” the Holocaust survivor and Noble Prize laureate Elie Wiesel said.
This profound quote comes to mind as we mark Holocaust Remembrance Day amid a new burst of anti-Semitism among mainstream political leaders in Europe which has unabashedly come out in the open seven decades after the end of World War II.
The Western world has long pledged “Never Again” but for years now Holocaust denial and calls for the eradication of the State of Israel have become almost de rigueur in our region, with many in the West turning a blind eye to such outbursts of venomous animosity and incitement.
This centuries-old hatred has now come full circle in Europe, with the outrageous remarks by British politicians from the UK’s Labour Party, where shameless anti-Semitism has been outed after years of being veiled under a veneer of anti-Israel activities such as the boycott Israel movement known as BDS.
That this should be coming from the country that in 1940 stood valiantly alone against the onslaught of Hitler boggles the mind.
“How the mighty have fallen,” we read in the Book of Samuel.
Every passing year, it becomes increasingly clear that first and foremost we must rely on ourselves to ensure “Never Again.”
This week, just days before we mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, dozens of elderly Holocaust survivors made their way to a special bar and bat mitzvah ceremony at the Western Wall, the retaining wall around the Temple compound, which, in fodder for the worst anti-Semites in history, UNESCO declared is devoid of any Jewish connection.
The special and moving event, which was sponsored by my ministry in coordination with the Western Wall Heritage Foundation and attended by the survivors and their families, sought to give them back a sliver of their stolen childhood.
Their presence at the Western Wall is the unequivocal proof of their victory – of our victory – over the penultimate evil.
Eighty years ago the Jews the world over thought the State of Israel a fantasy, a dream.
What they would have given to be part of this country.
Today, we are living that dream.
It is 68 years old. But it is also 2,000 years of exile and yearning: as old as the dream of the Jewish people to return their homeland.
And we take part in that dream – in building it, securing it, and ensuring “Never Again.”
The writer is Israel’s Minister for Social Equality.