Saturday, January 27, 2007

Holocaust Memorial Day

"Never Again"
"Never Forget"
This weekend as we commemorate the Holocaust, these are two quotes that are often said about the Holocaust, but do enough of us really mean it? That is why we need Holocaust Memorial Day.
Just over 60 years ago, while Germany were trying to win World War Two, they were also putting huge efforts into another major operation. An operation to destroy an entire people, the Jewish people. The aim of the Nazis was to murder every Jewish person in the world. Thank G-d they failed in both their aims; to win the war and to destroy an entire nation.
However, while they might have failed in their aim, the Nazis were able to kill 6 million Jewish people and millions of other people, inclusing homosexuals, gypsies and many others.
That is why we need a Holocaust Memorial Day, to remember that it is possible for us, human being's too hate another group of people enough to kill an entire people. We need to keep remembering so we never let it happen again.
However, sometimes we do let it happen and let it drift from our memories. That is why not enough of us have stood up to stop further genocides in the last 15 years; in the former Yugoslavia, in Rwanda, and currently in Darfur, Sudan. We should all stand up and speak out so no genocide is possible anywhere in the world.
However, while these are in far away countries, and we might say it is not possible to stop these, lets start nearer to home. In the last year or so I have noticed a growing resurgence of racism in this country, which was most recently highlighted on Big Brother. I believe the experience on Big Brother is just mirroring what is increasingly happening across Britain.
Therefore I am pleased that this year the theme of this year's Holocaust Memorial Day, is Dignity in Diffence. Racism exists because we do not accept that people can be different but rather everyone should be the same. Therefore, in Britain, while encouraging respect for Britain, we should also respect cultures and experiences of different people, allowing us all to live together, while not hating others for being different. This is how we can stop racism from ever happening again.
I hope I have made my message clear, but I believe, the Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, writes this a lot more clearly and so I include his idea below.
“The message of Holocaust Memorial Day is simple. There are many faiths, cultures, languages and races, but we have only one world in which to learn to live together and it is getting smaller every year. How many more people will have to die in the Middle East, Kashmir, Northern Ireland or the Balkans before we learn that those who are not in our image are nonetheless in G-d's image? That in diminishing others we diminish ourselves? That we are enlarged, not threatened, by diversity? Looking back on the past half-century, one fact stands out like a beacon of hope. Those countries and faiths that have genuinely confronted the Holocaust have made real progress in fighting prejudice and rendering it inadmissible to the mainstream of politics and culture. Holocaust Memorial Day is a way of ensuring that this message will not be lost with the passing of time. We have walked too long through the valley of the shadow of death. Once a year let us remind ourselves and our children what happens when we forget that the people unlike us are still people, like us.” (From The Times - January 2001)

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