Yom Hashoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is Erev Yom Hashoah, the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.  In Israel, it is a poignant moment honored by every citizen (or at least, every Jewish citizen).  In the rest of the world, it is a moment to be forgotten, ignored, or denied.

Back in the 1930s, no one could believe that the Germans, considered the most civilized and advanced of all Europeans, could become so bestial.

The tragedy today is that, when we look at the Islamists, we’ve already seen how bestial they are, and still nobody believes their oft repeated goal of reinstating the Holocaust.

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Long ago, Tacitus said “Proprium humani ingenii est odisse quem laeseris. (It is a principle of human nature to hate those whom you have injured.)” Or as people have more recently noted, the Europeans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.

UPDATED: Thanks to Sadie for reminding me that I wanted to include a video showing just how strongly Israelis feel about Yom Hashoah’s two minutes of silence. Can you imagine Americans coming to a halt this way?

When a gun is a gun and not a flower

Hippie puts flower in gun
The photo above must be one of the most iconic images from the hippie, anti-war period.  A youthful anti-Vietnam War protester, faced with a ring of National Guard troops pointing their rifles at him, carefully places a flower in each muzzle.  He thinks, no doubt, that the flowers have magically converted the guns into harmless instruments.  The troops, however, know that their rifles are still rifles.  The only thing that’s preventing them from firing is their inherent decency and, of course, the lack of any order telling them to pull the trigger.  The flower didn’t change anything; it’s the underlying morality that matters.

I thought of this liberal delusion — that guns can magically be transformed into harmless flowers — when Hube brought to my attention the clarity with which Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about the existential threat facing Israel, and about the West’s passivity in the face of this threat:

“The leaders of the Allies knew about the Holocaust in real time,” Netanyahu said at the opening of a permanent exhibit called “Shoah” in Block 27 at the Auschwitz- Birkenau State Museum.

“They understood exactly what was happening in the death camps. They were asked to act, they could have acted, and they did not.

“To us Jews the lesson is clear: We must not be complacent in the face of threats of annihilation. We must not bury our heads in the sand or allow others to do the work for us. We will never be helpless again.”

To stare down the muzzle of a rifle is a remarkably clarifying moment.  Why aren’t we having such clarifying moments in America despite the Islamists’ relentless war against America and Western values?  I think the problem is perfectly summed up by the young man in that photo:  reality-challenged Progressive think that, by pretending the rifle is a flower, it will magically become one.  That’s not how rifles or flowers work.

Yad Vashem makes pictures available on the internet

Today’s news about yesterday:

In honor of Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day, marked in Israel on Thursday, Yad Vashem expanded its Internet presence this week by opening an online database containing nearly two-thirds of the 200,000 photos in its archives.

[snip]

Earlier this week, Yad Vashem launched two YouTube sites. The English version includes sound bites from President Bush and French President Nicholas Sarkozy on their visits to the memorial.

“I would hope that as many people in the world come to this place, it would be a sobering reminder that evil exists and a call that when we find evil we must resist it,” President Bush says.

The YouTube clips also includes short video testimonies of survivors, among them Zanne Farbstein. She and her two sisters were among 1,000 women who were the first Jews to arrive at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

Auschwitz was the Nazis’ largest concentration camp. It is estimated that up to 2.5 million people were murdered or died there.

“I worked sorting clothes and I found Father’s prayer shawl. There were five crematoria. They burned day and night. Transports kept arriving and there was no room in the crematoria, so the children were thrown into pits and burned – little children…Alive!” Farbstein recalled in one video.

“We were all sick, so we would drag each other to work. Until one morning my older sister Edith said: ‘You know what? I can’t go on any more. Enough!’

“I cried. I shouted. Nothing helped. I had torn shoes. She had good shoes. She said to me, ‘Let’s exchange shoes.’

“So we went to work. When we returned, she was no more,” Farbstein said. She and her other sister were in Auschwitz together for three years, waiting for death every day, she said. “That was the worst part: the fear.”

Farbsten says she never would have believed that she could live a normal life – marrying and having children and grandchildren. “Sheer joy!” she says.

You can find the photo archive here.