Never Again

Candles_0Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) in Israel. The date was chosen because of it’s position between the Anniversary of the Waraw Ghetto Uprising and Israel Independence Day, and indeed in Hebrew the full name of the day is Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laGvura (Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day). There is a clear “angle” here, but then different points of view are fine as long as we recognise them as such. 

In 1949 the Chief Rabbinate of Israel (R. Uziel and R. Herzog), decided that the Tenth of Tevet should be the national remembrance days for victims of the Holocaust. Two years later the Knesset designated 27th of Nisan as Yom HaShoah, ignoring the Rabbinate’s earlier decision, and ignoring the fact that during the month of Nissan fasting and eulogies are traditionally avoided.

10 am on Holocaust Day on a motorway in Israel (~2011)

10 am on Holocaust Day on a motorway in Israel (~2011)

Since it’s nationally observed, I respect it.

This morning I was on the motorway to work when the siren went. I stopped on the hard shoulder, opened the door, and stood in silent contemplation for two minutes. Most other drivers did the same, though some continued driving, particularly the lorries. It’s quite impressive and moving to be part of actually.

But there is one thing that annually makes me feel uneasy.

The slogan “NEVER AGAIN” is used repeatedly. In speeches, in articles, in Tweets, in blog posts, on people’s FaceBook walls. And it is used in two quite different ways.

Some clearly intend it as a prayer; while others use it as statement of fact. 

I feel very uncomfortable when I hear it being used in a way that sounds like a confident statement of fact.

How can anyone be so sure? How dare anyone?

Israel is surrounded by enemies. Israel’s strong, efficient army is a wonderful blessing but it is not a guarantee.

May mankind indeed never forget, and may the Almighty never allow such crimes to be perpetrated again.

Please God, NEVER AGAIN.

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