July 20, 2019

Holocaust Memorial Day

Holocaust Memorial Day 2019: A service is held at York Minster (Image: Getty Images)

Is our messaging optimised when it comes to the remembering the Holocaust? 

Yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), an important annual event. We remember the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and subsequent genocidal tragedies in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. As the UK’s Daily Express newspaper put it, “this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day will include marking the 25th anniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda, which began in April 1994 and the 40th anniversary of the end of the Genocide in Cambodia, which ended in 1979.”

I am an English Jew, and it astounds me quite how much respect is paid to the Holocaust – with over 6000 HMD events in 2016 – but quite how hypocritical some public figures can be: They say “never again.” They hear “never again.” They vow “never again.” In the next breath,  many of these empathizers and sympathizers are criticizers of Israel. 

“We love Jews, but why can’t we criticize the actions of the Israeli Government?” is a regular refrain. I tackle that topic in the next issue of the Jewish Journal, and our editor David Suissa commented on it in his last column. 

There is a beautiful picture of this year’s memorial at York Minster, one of the largest cathedrals in Europe. That is the same York where 150 Jews were massacred there at Clifford’s Tower in 1190. Things have changed 900 years later, or have they?

Perhaps is time to refine our messaging. We remember the Holocaust but we recognize, explain and share how anti-semitism has changed. Today the virus has morphed into anti-Zionism. A Jew-hater is a Jew-hater and we are naive if our PR does not keep up with the times.