Shabbat Shalom. Is It Once Again The Shoa?

Traditionally the Jewish Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday, extending for 24 hours. I fear that a sundown of sorts is coming once again for the Jewish peoples of the world, especially in light of the recent events in Ukraine. A new Shoa seems to be in the making.

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I am a student of history. One of the most disturbing aspects of life today is the rise of casual antisemitism. The influx of Islamic extremists in Europe has led to large no-go zones for Jews in cities such as Paris. Jewish schools, businesses, and synagogues are under attack once again. Europe is seeing the largest exodus of Jews since the formation of the state of Israel. To many in Europe, it’s time to get out while the getting is good.

How could it be that we’re back to where we were a mere 70 years ago? How can the world accept this horror once again? Largely because we’ve allowed the pinheads who deny the Holocaust a platform to spew their hate. We say stupid things like, “You’re entitled to your opinion” when they allow their black little souls exit into our world and spread their vile lies. We allow things like a homework assignment questioning the Holocaust into our schools as an exercise in thought. We close our eyes and hope that once again it won’t sweep us up in it’s wake.

No problem is so great that it can’t be countered with “But Israel is an apartheid state.” Really. Dig a little deeper folks and look at the reality of a state where Jews and Arabs have citizenship of equal value. “But the Israelis worked with South Africa on nuclear weapons. They are the same!” Nice argument. Holds no water. We’ve worked (as a nation) with many other nations that we aren’t too crazy about on a moral level, but it didn’t mean we held all the same views.

The rise of the current wave of antisemitism is linked to those who deny the Shoa (Holocaust) ever took place. There is an excellent show running on the Smithsonian Channel right now entitled Treblinka: Hitler’s Killing Machine. Click on the link and watch it when it runs next. You’ll be amazed that we have to produce artifacts to prove that it happened.

I know it happened. I’ll tell you my story and let you be the judge of its veracity. A small item first: I’ve seen the tattoos on the arms of the survivors. I’ve gone to the homes of the survivors. They are real. The camps were real. I’ve been to the most famous one in Germany, Dachau.

In 1988 my wife and I toured Europe by train. We’d taken 30 days leave from the military and just wandered from place to place. By coincidence, or God’s hand, we wound up not very far from Dachau. Only 25 minutes via train from Munich it was too close not to visit. So on a dark November day we traveled to this small place which plays such a large part in history.

I had often wondered what it would be like to visit one of the camps. Dachau wasn’t a Vernischstslager, extermination camp. Instead it was a Konzentrationslager. That would be small comfort to any of the 41,000 people who died there, for them it was a death camp. I also wondered, as we drew closer to the town, how one could send a Christmas card with Dachau as a return address. Didn’t it cry out to the soul to abandon this place, the beginning of the network of camps that riddled Europe before the end of the war?

We walked from the station to the camp. With each step the presence of evil became more tangible. Mocking, dark, fetid, and oppressive beyond comprehension, it was there in the atmosphere. As we entered the gate I knew in my heart that Satan walked the earth – this ground was still his kingdom. I could feel the souls in anguish around me – truly a haunting in progress. The grounds conveyed the past and what it meant – exhibits of the barracks, the torture implements, the sense of hopelessness that must have crushed the inmates. But the ghosts wandering the ground stayed just out of sight – shadows casting their wavering presence under the snowy skies.

The Holocaust took place. It could happen again tomorrow. I sense, and I imagine many of you have sensed it as well, the roar of the mob rushing us headlong toward fascism once again. The urge to strike down your opponent by ruining him financially, terrorizing his family, driving him from his home. It’s not just Jews, but anyone the mob opposes. We’re drifting back in time toward that last day of June, 1934.

I hope we never see another Shoa. I hope people wake up and say, “No. It will not happen on my watch.” But I fear it may be too late for Ukraine. France. Great Britian. No need to erect the camps this time, the lack of government support for the rights of individuals will do just as well. Will we see it here as well?

That, gentle reader, is up to each and every one of us.

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