Tonight, Israel and Jewish communities around the world will commence marking Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day.
At the central ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, six torches will be lit in memory of the six million murdered.
For the twenty-third consecutive year, the names of victims – including one and a half million children – will be read out as part of the initiative known as ‘Unto Every Person There is a Name’.
Sixty seven years after the end of World War II, around two-thirds of those murdered during the Holocaust have been identified – over four million names. Work still continues in trying to name the remaining victims.
Yom HaShoah is not only a day for remembrance of the personal tragedies of so many which form a collective trauma for the Jewish people, but also a day to reflect upon contemporary forms of the same anti-Semitism which continue to blight the world.
In a story entitled ‘Esperanto’ from Amos Oz’s recent book ‘Between Friends’, one of the characters recounts:
“During the war I hid from the Nazis, but a few times I got to see them quite close up. Simple boys, not monsters at all, a bit noisy [and] infantile, they liked to joke, played the piano, fed the small cats, but they had been brainwashed. And only because they had been brainwashed they did terrible things even though they were not terrible but spoiled. Corrupt ideas spoilt them. “
Six million victims of genocide were not enough to oust these corrupt ideas from a Europe which has – in less than a lifetime since the guns fell silent – managed to re-brand itself as a self-appointed guardian of human rights.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee called for a day of boycott of Israeli goods in a ‘Global Day of Action‘ on March 30th 2012. Its Western and other sympathisers are of course quick to rally to the cause.
Whether they are ignorant of or indifferent to the fact that they emulate one of the first actions of the Nazi regime (a boycott of Jewish owned businesses) almost 79 years to the day, one of the functions of Yom HaShoah is to serve as a reminder of the potentially dangerous power of such morally toxic ideas.