Thursday 13 December 2018

Why shouldn't we remember the Holocaust?

The Holocaust stands alone in terms of scale
The Holocaust stands alone in terms of scale

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. Incredibly, even marking the occasion has become a controversial topic across Europe.

In the UK, we've seen numerous objections to official commemorations since the Muslim Council of Britain first objected a decade ago because of Israel's relationship with the Palestinians.

In Hungary tomorrow, a deliberately provocative right-wing demonstration has been planned to coincide with the date.

In France, a record number of Jews are fleeing the country, while synagogues and schools are now routinely protected by armed security.

In Germany, the number of anti-Semitic attacks has increased exponentially in the last few years and even Sweden, that beacon of tolerance, has experienced anti-Semitic attacks perpetrated by their newly-arrived immigrant community.

Here in Ireland?

Well, we seemed to have a most unexpected increase in the Jewish population, according to the last census. But that spike was actually caused by transient workers who operate in the tech industry and have moved here for a brief time only.

Jewish influence and even presence in Ireland is now negligible. The days of Terenure and the surrounding streets being seen as Jewish areas has long gone, as they're replaced by halal shops.

The days of playing football against Maccabi at their grounds in Kimmage are but a memory (oh, those pitches were like a carpet) and the grounds are now a gym because there weren't enough Jewish kids to keep the teams going.

The Israeli announcement that they will probably close their embassy here has been greeted with either apathy or celebration.

That the announcement - still officially a 'budgetary proposal', but we all know the decision has been made - was greeted with such delight by some people says a lot.

Of course, those same people will be quick to deny that they are anti-Semitic but merely oppose Israeli policies. Some of them may even mean it.

Yet the desire to place the Holocaust in the context of just being another atrocity fails to account for the fact that it's the single worst atrocity in human history, something which seems to become even more monstrous with each passing year.

There's a danger of playing Genocide Top Trumps and nobody is diminishing the horrors of Rwanda or Armenia. But the Holocaust stands alone in terms of its scale.

It's possible that within a generation, what was once a minority will become just a memory and that would be a disaster not just for the Jewish community, but for all of us.

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