Yom Hashoah began at sundown yesterday evening with the annual ceremony at Yad Vashem with torches lit in memory of the 6 million Jewish victims of the Shoah.
You can watch the entire ceremony here:
Six Holocaust survivors lit torches in memory of the six million Jewish men, women and children murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators. Roza Bloch spoke on behalf of the survivors.
You can also watch and hear their stories in the video above.
President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu addressed the audience at the ceremony last night. Netanyahu sent a warning to the US that “Israel will not be bound by any Iran deal that threatens Israel”, since the Biden administration is back to the Obama ways of making needless overtures to Iran.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Wednesday that Israel will not be bound by a revitalized nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, declaring that the Jewish state is obligated only to defending itself against those who seek to destroy it.
In a speech at the Yad Vashem memorial museum during Israel’s official Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, Netanyahu referred to negotiations in Vienna aimed at bringing the US back into the 2015 nuclear pact while getting Iran to abide by its commitments to the unraveling deal.
“A deal with Iran that threatens us with annihilation will not obligate us,” Netanyahu declared.
In his speech, the prime minister also railed against the International Criminal Court’s “outrageous” decision to investigate Israel for potential war crimes against Palestinians.
“The Jewish people were defenseless in the face of the Nazis but are no longer so, and have every right to defend themselves from their enemies,” he said.
The ICC, he noted, was formed in the image of the courts of the Nuremberg trials that brought Nazis to justice. But “from Nurenberg to The Hague things were turned upside down. A body formed to defend human rights has become a body that in actuality defends those who trample on human rights.”
President Reuven Rivlin, speaking before the prime minister, dedicated his address to the 900 Holocaust survivors who died over the past year in the coronavirus outbreak.
Having survived the Nazi atrocities and the perilous journey to Israel in the years between the end of World War Two and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, “the last battle of their lives they fought alone, behind masks and gloves, distanced from their loved ones, thirsty for contact.”
“Tonight our hearts are with them and with their families who are here with us,” Rivlin said.
“The burden of remembrance that we carry in our hearts is a sacred duty,” Rivlin said. “Whether we want it or not, the memory of the Holocaust shapes us as a nation. The Holocaust presents us and our country, the State of Israel, with the endless mission of remembrance.”
Because of the coronavirus pandemic still raging across the world – with the very notable exception of Israel which has more or less emerged from the pandemic due to its amazing vaccination program, and a couple of other countries – the annual March of the Living in Poland was cancelled. Instead other programs are being held in Israel:
In his speech, Rivlin spoke of the 900 Holocaust survivors who died over the past year due to COVID-19.
“They survived the ghettoes and the death camps, the immigrant ships and the internment camps,” he said. “But the final battle of their lives was fought with them bewildered and isolated, behind masks and gloves, yearning for contact but parted from their loved ones.”
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, many survivors typically attend remembrance ceremonies, share stories with teenagers and participate in memorial marches at former concentration camps in Europe.
But with March of the Living’s annual Holocaust commemoration in Poland canceled for a second year running due to the virus, the organization will instead hold an online symposium featuring Holocaust survivors, medical professionals and researchers discussing “medical resistance during the Holocaust, the legacy of Nazi medicine and what the Holocaust can teach us about the ethics of care.”
Highlighting the threat to survivors from the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s event is paying “special tribute to the medical resistance and heroes of the Holocaust,” and will include Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, the son of Holocaust survivors, and US President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Messages of support poured in from around the world:
The European Union mission to Israel tweeted that as part of its “Memory in the Living Room” project, EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret will host Holocaust survivor Bat-Sheva Dagan in an event to be broadcast live at Friday 1 p.m. on the commission’s Facebook page.
In a statement, the EU mission said: “We pay tribute to those who survived the unthinkable horrors of the Holocaust and rebuilt their lives in Israel, Europe and across the world. It is our collective duty to make sure that the horrors of the Holocaust are never forgotten.”
“We pledge to do everything in our power to fight attempts to deny, trivialize or distort the Holocaust,” it said, noting that the EU has tripled the budget for for Holocaust remembrance, education and research beginning 2022.
The Auschwitz Memorial museum, which is in charge of preserving the former concentration camp, tweeted: “Memory comes in many forms. Here on Twitter it is in your hands. On #YomHaShoah we kindly ask you to amplify our voice.”
Earlier in the week, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken tweeted, “Each year, the US observes Days of Remembrance to reflect upon the Holocaust. We remember that evil on a grand scale can and does happen, and we have a responsibility to do everything we can to stop it. We honor the lost by remembering and by learning.#NeverAgain #YomHashoah”
It would be nice if the Europeans had as much respect for living Jews in their renewed homeland and not only for those who are dead, murdered in that very same Europe. It would be much better if the EU would stop interfering with Israel’s sovereignty in places like Area C.
However despite all the goodwill displayed on special occasions like today, it is almost unbelievable to see that Holocaust denial is rife in certain circles. Watch this short but shocking, very sickening video to understand the lies, conspiracy theories, ignorance and plain old Jew-hatred: (via Lee Kern on Twitter):
Not only do Jews suffer from Holocaust denial, but in this past year of the pandemic Jews have been the targets of conspiracy theorists of the worst kind, either accusing the Jews of inventing and spreading the virus, or of using the vaccine to somehow poison non-Jews. The brain-twisting distortions needed to believe these mad theories are… well… mind-boggling. I’m sorry I keep using that word.
The significant rise in extremism and the widespread increase in antisemitic conspiracy over the last year could have profound effects on Jewish communities in a post-Pandemic world, Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, said at the release of the Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide 2020, by the Kantor Center at Tel Aviv University.
“2020 has been a year like no other in recent memory. Our worlds and daily lives were changed and altered, leading to a global social crisis in many countries and for many around the world,” Dr. Kantor said.
“As a result, there has been a deep global polarization, with the extremist margins increasing due to conspiracy theories and the search for answers in a challenging world. This led to a change in the type and distribution of antisemitism.”
Fewer physical attacks took place, because of lockdowns and severe restrictions. Far more hate against Jews was spread online where accusing Jews and Israel for the Coronavirus was easily spread, resulting in the expansion of extremist groups.
“Anti-Jewish hatred online never stays online. We have to be prepared that antisemitic conspiracy theories could lead to physical attacks on Jews when lockdowns end,” he added.
According to the report, in most countries a decrease was observed in violent incidents, attacks on both people and property, threats and arson, but the number of attacks against Jewish sites and communal property increased.
- The number of violent antisemitic incidents decreased by 19%, from 456 incidents in 2019 to 371 in 2020, due to lockdowns.
- In addition, the number of physical injuries decreased by 37%, from 170 in 2019 to 107 in 2020, and damage to private property was also reduced by 35%, from 130 to 84 incidents, simply because people mostly stayed at home.
- However, a rise of 25% was observed in desecrations of Jewish cemeteries and vandalizing of Holocaust memorials and other Jewish monuments – from 77 to 96 incidents in 2020, because these sites are open and unprotected.
- The number of vandalized synagogues also increased, by 19%., from 53 to 63 incidents in 2020. Most recently, the synagogue of Norrköping, Sweden, was desecrated by Neo-Nazis, on the first night of Passover.
A rise was registered in Ukraine, and a decline in Australia, the UK and especially in France and Canada.
Worrying trends continued in Germany and the USA. In Germany, a rise was recorded in the total number of incidents, with the opposition to vaccines generating comparisons to the Holocaust, and continued desecration of Jewish memorials and cemeteries.
In the US, antisemitic activities on the internet intensified, conspiracy theories have become more rampant and boosted the activities of white supremacists and QAnon.
The pandemic, and measures taken to stem its spread, live restrictions and the vaccines, have led to inappropriate comparisons with Jewish suffering during the Holocaust.
“The use of Holocaust imagery surrounding the Coronavirus has become rampant,” Dr. Kantor said. “Whether comparing the restrictions to ghettos or Nazi laws against Jews and the vaccine as akin to Mengele’s experiments, these terms have minimized the murder and suffering of the Six Million Jews.”
But it’s not only Holocaust denial that is a problem. In fact one could quite legitimately think that this is the province of cranks and eccentrics. More worrying at the moment is a relatively new phenomenon – I would call it “antisemitism denial”. Antisemites know that antisemitism is unfashionable and un-woke. But they still want to have their cake and eat it. They want to be able to be antisemitic without being called out as such. Therefore the latest move by these woke Jew-haters is to attempt to debunk or annul the IHRA (International Holocaust Remebrance Alliance) working definition of antisemitism, which has become the accepted yardstick in most academic and political institutions worldwide for determining what constitutes antisemitism.
The method these Jew-haters have chosen to combat the IHRA definition – which would most certainly classify them as antisemites – is to create a definition of their own – the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism, which of course declares them to be as pure as the driven snow and Heaven forbid, not antisemitic at all.
Emily Schrader in the Jerusalem Post writes that the Jerusalem Declaration is unneeded:
In recent weeks, a new definition of antisemitism has popped up, titled the “Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism,” aimed at undermining the widely accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Association definition. But at a time of rising antisemitic incidents around the world, in particular those in the name of “anti-Zionism not antisemitism,” we don’t need another definition of antisemitism, and certainly not by some of the same groups who are making antisemitism a political issue like the fringe groups IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace.
The new definition, signed onto by 200 academics, criticizes the IHRA definition by claiming it is overly broad not in the definition itself, but “in its use.” The IHRA definition is used as a tool for the US government, the EU and 30 other nations to help them define and recognize antisemitic incidents. It is also widely accepted by numerous academic institutions, sports teams and even private companies. It is unique in that it outlines specific examples of what antisemitism looks like today – from classical antisemitic tropes, to comparing the Jewish state to Nazis, to demanding Jews abroad answer for the policies of Israel, to using “Zionism” as a replacement word for Jews. Naturally, this concerns not only classical antisemites, but also modern ones who have made it a priority to demonize and defame Zionists.
The controversy over the IHRA definition has arisen as a result of several fringe Jewish groups launching a campaign against IHRA, falsely claiming it “censors” free speech and that it “silences” Palestinian advocacy. This is not only untrue, but tremendously offensive to pro-Palestinian activists in claiming they cannot advocate for Palestinians without being antisemitic.
Among those advocating for this antisemitism-revisionism are at least two discredited persons: Peter Beinart and Richard Falk:
It should also be noted that among the signatories of the JDA are Peter Beinart, who routinely uses his platform to demonize both Israel and Zionists; Naomi Chazan, the former president of the left-wing New Israel Fund and Richard Falk, who served as the UN special rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories.” Falk, a conspiracy theorist who believes 9/11 was an inside job, has been widely criticized for his comments on both Israel and Jews, including but not limited to: claiming that Israel was planning a Holocaust of the Palestinians,…
Dave Rich, Director of Policy of the CST in Britain, writing in the Algemeiner notes:
You might expect any definition of antisemitism to prioritize the views of Jewish communities over the interests of those who want to campaign against something Jewish, but that is not the case here. It would be bizarre, for example, if a definition of antisemitism went out of its way to protect the right to campaign for shechita or brit milah to be banned, yet the Jerusalem Declaration’s authors felt the need to explicitly say it is not antisemitic to call for the world’s only Jewish state to disappear.
Maybe we ought to simply refer to the Jewish blogger Elder of Ziyon who has come up with his own simplified definition of antisemitism:
Antisemitism ishostility toward,denigration of ordiscrimination againstJewsas individual Jews,as a people,as a religion,as an ethnic group oras a nation (i.e., Israel.)
Some Jews identify as being part of the Jewish religion, some are atheists but identify with the Jewish people, some as an ethnic group, some as Zionist – part of the Jewish nation. All of these are legitimate aspects of Jewishness, and attacking any one of them is antisemitic, no matter how individual Jews identify.
As I have done in the past, I draw your attention to my Family History pages where I have recorded the history of my family during the Shoah, especially the murder of my mother’s three brothers, David, Elchanan and Uri Strauss HY’D, in Sobibor. Below is an updated photo that my cousin’s son Noam Corb found and inserted into his book on our family history. Noam says:
The pictures were taken by the Dutch authorities at the border, just after they arrived to the Netherlands. Every child in this kindertransport from Frankfurt to Naarden got a number.
Never forgive. Never forget. May the memory of the 6 million be for a blessing.