Slightly off-topic but this is very close to my heart for personal reasons. Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

70 years ago, over six million people were killed during the Holocaust. Pause for a moment and really imagine that. Over SIX MILLION PEOPLE. That's the whole of greater Dallas — gassed. Or Madrid. Or Santiago De Chile. Or Frankfurt. Or Miami, Philly, Toronto. Or a whole country the size of Israel, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Singapore, Jamaica or the Republic of Ireland. Systematically slaughtered for their religious beliefs, cultural and ethnic identity. And others for their sexuality, color, age and gender, physical or mental disability. And in those days, 6 million people will have felt more like 10 million nowadays, not to intellectualize the numbers.

So please let's all take a deep breath and remember, so that we don't repeat history. Or maybe, in a huff of small-minded temporary madness, wish we would and could. Or feel too sorry for ourselves for some or other unhappiness that life has dealt us and blame it on the other ones, across the street. It's easy to forget. It's easy to ignore there's the potential to inflict incredible suffering in most of us, by choice, by apathy, by ignorance, or worse still, by willful ignorance.

Look at the Balkans in the heart of Europe not even 20 years ago, or Rwanda, or much more recently Darfur or in fact the Central African Republic, this year, now, today! North Korea, a country of concentration camps. Burma, as recently as two years ago being slowly released from the grip of a dictatorial junta, now suffering from quickly spreading violence towards their Muslim minority, inflicted by the supposedly “peaceful” Buddhists population, with hundreds killed since rioting began. Or of course look at Syria, look at barrel bombs tearing limbs from babies, look at English teenagers filtering into the country via Turkey, to fight for a “revolution” that has long ago drowned its children in a bloodbath of genocidal proportions. Or Turkey, itself happily indulging in an epic genocide in Armenia less than 100 years ago — it still hasn’t acknowledged that part of its recent history.
And the only weapon that actually works long-term is education. Which ironically enough is something that has always been one of the most important cornerstones of Jewish culture, even enshrined in the Talmud.

Historically, Jews have often been more educated than the population of the countries they’d made their home in. Opinions vary as to why that is, but as they tended to be confined to urban areas, by choice or often not, skilled occupations and home ownership were a logical result of that. The Holocaust ripped dark holes into societies not only by killing off a whole minority, but also by exterminating ideas and a skilled and educated workforce. As a result, there are still areas, notably in former Russian Jewish communities, which are clearly worse off now, to this day.
And of course, as another inescapable cornerstone of human existence, education and property ownership seems to attract more suspicion, jealousy and criticism, especially when it’s part of a community that seems exclusive and segregated. I found myself listening to a BBC segment on Aleppo this morning and it made me think that Aleppo is known to have been one of the earliest permanent settlements in the world, and it used to be home to the oldest Jewish community in the Middle East, with the oldest synagogue, and even more importantly, the oldest form of a bound manuscript of the Hebrew Bible, known as the Aleppo Bible or Codex. It had remained in Syria for over 500 years, and during the Holocaust was hidden in the Aleppo synagogue. In 1947 when tensions rose throughout the Middle East due to the UN decision to establish Israel, rioters burned down the ancient synagogue and these oldest-known scriptures disappeared. More than a decade later the Codex that had been hidden by someone affiliated to the synagogue at the time was smuggled into Israel. Sadly though, big parts of it were irretrievably lost. Look at the picture of Aleppo emerging now, and it looks virtually like Dresden circa 1945. Only skeletons of buildings, rubble and dust.

So what’s my point? Just — let’s remember! And let’s not forget. Let’s not only not forget, but let’s remind people. I know it sounds preachy, probably boring and long time ago-ish. It’s not. It’s happening all over the shop, all of the time. Perpetrated mostly by architects of terror that use and manipulate their people to do their dirty work. People that have either forgotten, or never had the chance to learn about the Holocaust blueprint in the first place. Who don’t know what it feels like to be a cog in a big and murderous machine. Education is the key.

Holocaust Remembrance Day may not be a time to open cans of worms, but it does strike me as sad yet apt that even Israel, a country with one of the most educated populations in the world, is not beyond fallible when it comes to making (un)educated choices.



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09/22/2014 11:45am

The only weapon that actually works long-term is education. Which ironically enough is something that has always been one of the most important cornerstones of Jewish culture. We should focus on education to get success.

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10/14/2014 1:30am

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