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Amir Lati

​​​​Amir Lati:It didn't happen in a "vacuum"--Article for International Holocaust Remembrance Day

【明報文章】On 27/1/1945, Anatoly Shapiro a young Jewish Captain in the Soviet army, reached the Auschwitz-Berkenau concentration camp , opened its gate to the camp and to the hell on earth that was inside it.

On 2005 , that exact date , was chosen by the UN General Assembly , after a diplomatic Israeli endeavor as the day to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust worldwide and also as opportunity to study the historical, political and ideological setting that preceded the Holocaust and enabled it to happen, as part of attempts to fulfill the promise “Never again.”

The Universal lessons that the holocaust taught us are that racism, hatred of the other and in tolerance lead us to the worse thing that one human being can make to the other .

The Holocaust was preceded by many events that anticipated and hinted at what was to come: years of official encouragement of antisemitism and legitimization of age-old racism and antisemitism, moving from the guise of acceptable public discourse to actions that included violent pogroms, discrimination and exclusion, and ending in the Final Solution and genocide.

For us and for anyone with a functioning moral compass, this year Holocaust Remembrance Day takes on a new and painful meaning.

Like the Holocaust, the tragic events of 7 October “did not happen in a vacuum,” to quote UNSG Antonio Guterres. However, contrary to that implication which somehow diminishes the horror— the context of the massacre was not political but purely antisemitic and racist.

Hatred of the Jews has existed throughout the generations—often beneath the surface, at times openly—erupting mainly during periods of crisis. It is often exploited for political reasons and used even in places where there are almost no Jews. Hatred, and the accompanying demonization and delegitimization, of Jews and of Israel is a very real presence in the atmosphere of the Arab world and wide parts of the Western world. In Europe and America as in the Arab and Muslim world, antisemitism is fed by prejudice, hatred of Jews and education to hate, and includes legitimization and even glorification of terror attacks against Jews and against Israel. Israel’s antisemitic detractors portray it as an apartheid state and hold a slanted view of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Demonstrations all over the world calling for “the liberation of Palestine from the River to the Sea” are in effect granting legitimacy to the ethnic cleansing of Jews. Like the calls for another Intifada against the Jews, they have become routine, and it is not surprising that Adolf Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf, was found in Arabic translation in a Gazan home used as a weapons lab and storage facility for Hamas. The book is a regular “guest” at book fairs in the region.

Holocaust survivors living in the western Negev and in some of the 30 communities that were attacked on 7 October, who had already survived the worst events imaginable, found themselves witnessing horrors that the world had sworn would “Never again” be seen. One of then Moshe Ridler age 91 years old that survived the holocaust in Romania, was murdered in cold blood together with his Moldovan care taker .

The German ambassador to Israel, Steffan Seibert, expressed this very well in an interview during a visit to Beilinson Medical Center. He said, "Recently I met an elderly woman who survived the Holocaust. She spoke about her grandson who was kidnapped and is being held in Gaza. She survived the Holocaust, and now she must endure this horror, that her innocent grandson is being held against his will somewhere in Gaza. It defies description."

Her story also reflects the stories of many other holocaust survivors that lived in the communities close to Gaza and who themselves and their families were a victim of the terrorist attack that day.

Acceptance of antisemitic expressions as a legitimate part of political discourse is a threat to liberal values and to the future of the entire world. It is incumbent upon us all to fight this phenomenon wherever it appears. And it is vital to state clearly and unequivocally:

This year more than ever before, International Holocaust Remembrance Day must serve as a strong reminder of what can happen to a world that stands idly by.

Amir Lati is Consul General of the State of Israel in Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR.

​​​​[Amir Lati]

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