Seventy-seven years after the end of the Second World War, we have witnessed a disturbing surge in the politicization of Holocaust imagery that has distorted and warped its memory in disgraceful ways, often tied to debates about the Covid-19 pandemic or Israeli policy. The incidents are an affront to the memory of Holocaust victims and to all who espouse to support human rights.
These outrageous comparisons, which were made to score cheap political points, are irrational, irresponsible, callous and hurtful. They deserve swift condemnation from all our elected officials from both political parties.
Using outlandish, irresponsible words and images to inflame people and for political gain is horrible; it inflicts yet more pain on the survivors who have already suffered so much. It is a sign of our divided times, in which we too often fail to see the humanity in each other.
Use of such language today emboldens extremists and bigots who seek to weaken our societal bonds, a condition that is dangerous not only for Jewish people, but every minority group and, indeed, society itself.
These sorts of comparisons to Nazi Germany are an egregious affront to Holocaust survivors. The images and rhetoric are re-traumatizing for some survivors and they represent a clear example of what happens when we do not heed the lessons that survivors have painstakingly taught us. Holocaust survivors have worked to create a brighter future for all people; my parents instilled in me the values of resilience, hard work, philanthropy and love for Israel.
We owe it to the next generation of students as concerned citizens to proactively reach out to our state representatives and governors and urge them to support this key Holocaust education expansion legislation.
There’s also more that we can do when politicians and public figures step out of line with their rhetoric. Calling out inappropriate Holocaust comparisons is important, but it’s equally important and likely more effective when communal leaders reach out and conduct one-on-one conversations, explaining both the pain these comparisons cause and the danger they perpetuate.
We must insist that the survivors of the Holocaust, who are our heroes and our teachers, are treated responsibly, with the dignity and respect that they deserve.
We must counteract statements that equate Covid-19 policies with the antisemitic Nazi regime that was determined to exterminate an entire people.
We must educate our children about the horrors of the Holocaust.
Together we must commit to preserve our humanity and make good on the promise we repeat every day, every week, every month and every year: “Never Again!”