Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Bitter Irony of Genocide Day

What is The Bitter Irony of Genocide Day?

As a general matter, national days of Holocaust Remembrance strike me as, at best, not worth the effort, and, at worst, harmful. . . .

They are meant to instill some form of Jewish pride. But Jewish pride in what: That we are history's champion victims? That we have suffered more and longer than any other people? Does the reduction of Jewish history to one long mural of suffering offer to the young, marginally identified Jew any reason to explore his or her identity more deeply? Why should it? In order to add his or her name to the long scroll of Jewish victims? . . . That does not mean, however, that I view all Holocaust education as pointless. [But] [i]n general, national days of Holocaust commemoration occasion neither any in depth study of the Holocaust nor any testimony to convey the enormity of the evil through the experience of individual victims. Commemoration ceremonies tend to become a form of being yotzei zein by those with scant knowledge of the Nazi horrors, and often serve little purpose other than to confirm the exquisite sensitivity of those who proclaimed the Day of Remembrance in the first place.

WHATEVER THE VALUE of days of Holocaust Remembrance, however, the recent proposal by Moslem advisors to Prime Minister Tony Blair that Holocaust Day be replaced by a Genocide Day, which would also commemorate, inter alia, "genocidal" Israeli policies against the Palestinians, must be fought tooth and nail.

Blair's Moslem advisors complain that Holocaust Day is too exclusive. They envy our special day. We Jews, however, would be only too happy to trade our "exclusive day" for the 6 million lost in the Holocaust.

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