To Never Forget
Updated: Sep 11, 2020
Avi Benlolo, Canadian Human Rights Activist
Every few hours, the Auschwitz Memorial Museum updates its Twitter feed with a memorial to Jews and many others who were murdered in its gas chambers. The memorials are haunting in their detail and often include pictures of the beautiful children and adults who were savagely taken from their homes, from their families, their lives torn apart. The stream of names and pictures are endless:
A French Jewish boy, Willy Bajroch was deported in August 1942 from Drancy and murdered in Auschwitz’ gas chamber. A Dutch Jewish girl named Ariette Wilk was murdered in 1942 after “selection”. A Czech Jewish woman Ruzena Schneiderova was deported to Auschwitz from Theresienstadt. In the last few days, Auschwitz reported that on August 9th, 1944 – 45,000 of 67,000 Jews were murdered in the gas chambers after they were deported from the Litzmannstadt ghetto. On and on it goes.
Had the Jewish victims of the Holocaust been fortunate enough to have been born post 1945 – they would never have been murdered in the gas chambers. They would have had a place of refuge, a place that defends them and a place that will speak out for them among nations. That place is the Jewish homeland – the land of Israel.
Theodore Herzl’s dream of having a protectorate for Jews has come to life. In fact, just this week, 140 French immigrants fled to Israel, escaping antisemitism in that country. And who could blame them? A community that has suffered through the Holocaust having had some 70,000 of its members deported to death camps, now suffers violent antisemitism.
One of the many shocking and latest tragedies is that of the murder of elderly orthodox woman, Sara Halimi. She was literally thrown from her own balcony to her death as her killer reportedly shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’. A French court released him claiming he suffered a massive psychotic episode, despite the outrage of the Jewish community.
Without justice, the Jewish community of France feel vulnerable, their victimizers – more emboldened. Just today, it was reported that a “French Jewish man was verbally abused and beaten up badly in a Paris elevator in an antisemitic assault”. The French are perhaps the most physically affected Jews in the world today. Indeed, the emotional impact of the ensuing violence has had untold consequences. One of the hostages of the Hypercasher Kosher Market attack in Paris told me she and her family fled to Boston after the attack.
Its hard to imagine that as the Auschwitz Memorial Twitter feed keeps generating names of innocent Jewish victims, that the world is not paying enough attention to the rising tide of antisemitism. In Toronto, in the last few weeks, we have seen a local business accused of promoting an anti-Israel agenda; graffiti painted on walkways calling for the boycott of Israel and even as recently as this past weekend, someone targeted a Jewish neighbourhood with signs that blamed Israel for the blast in Beirut.
In the Berlin Spectator, Imanuel Marcus writes about the “frightening” surge of antisemitism in Germany as described in an impending government report: “In 2018, there was a 71 percent increase regarding right wing extremist crimes with an antisemitic background. For last year, a rise of 17 percent had to be added, as Thomas Haldenwang, the authority’s President, just told the ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’ daily in an interview”.
Perhaps its just not hard to imagine that there should be a rebirth of antisemitism in Germany today – given its history. But surely, sensible educated minds find it hard to comprehend – especially as the Auschwitz Twitter ticker of Holocaust victims continues to remind the world of the horrific genocide of the Jews and many others. Everyone should follow their ticker as a constant and enduring reminder of the tragic consequence of antisemitism, hate and intolerance.