The Holocaust was more than genocide, more than a crime against humanity—it was a unique assault against Jews. That was the message underscoring the horrors of antiseimitism from new Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer to the International March of the Living 35th Anniversary Gala last week, ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day later this month.
“It is very important not to take the Holocaust itself away from the Jewish people,” said Dermer on January 10 in comments quoted in a press release from the International March of the Living. “…It is rooted in a unique hatred, antisemitism, a hatred that is unique in its longevity, in its ubiquity, and its ferocity, and its malleability, because it has moved across time, and space, changes forms all the time, it is a powder keg.”
Dermer noted an effort in recent years to “universalize the Holocaust, as just another genocide or massacre that happened.” While acknowledging the Holocaust is an example of “man’s inhumanity to man” and “the dangers of racism”, Dermer warned that doesn’t just miss the uniqueness of the Holocaust, it dishonors those killed in it.
“To turn the Holocaust into just another chapter of man’s inhumanity to man, betrays
the memory of the victims,” said Dermer. “It is not simply another chapter of man’s inhumanity to man, it is the worst chapter in man’s inhumanity to Jews.”
Dermer said the unique horror of the Holocaust goes beyond its scale—which was an astonishing third of the Jewish people at the time, which Dermer compared to Americans having a 9/11 terror attack “every day for a century.” Beyond that, Dermer noted the Holocaust was unique in that “all of the Jews were targeted, all of them,” in a systematic, antisemitic plan that wasn’t a means towards winning a war. “It was an end to itself… Hitler, as he was losing the war, diverted resources to kill Jews.”
While the Holocaust happened decades ago, the struggle against antisemitism continues today—and Dermer made it clear there’s one way to respond. “If you’re going to deal with antisemitism, you have to fight back… You have to be front and center and to be proud and to stand up to the antisemites.”
While noting that Jews cannot “ask others to fight our battles for us,” Dermer implied others should get involved as well. He said antisemitism cannot be a political issue, as persons on the “left or right” need to “call out antisemitism” and work with those on the other side of the pollical spectrum to battle Jew hatred.
“We’re not going to stop antisemitism, but we will make it smaller and smaller,” said Dermer. “If we don’t fight it, you will see that what was the red line yesterday will be wiped away, and the red line will keep moving and keep moving and keep moving.”
One of the greatest proponents of modern antisemitic hatred against Israel today is Iran, and that makes the world’s nuclear crisis with the Islamic Republic a clear threat. Israel’s newly elected government, Dermer said, is “doing everything in our power to make sure that the regime in Tehran that openly calls and actively works to destroy the one and only Jewish state, does not achieve that goal”.
In a hopeful symbol of changing times, the threat of Iran isn’t just Israel’s alone—it can also help drive peace between Israel and Arab nations that has progressed in the historic Abraham Accords.
Said Dermer, “I think the policy towards Iran is a critical part of expanding peace because I think it opens the space for Arab leaders to move into a public alliance with Israel when we face this common enemy together.”
On a more personal level, the International March of the Living organization is battling antisemitism by educating persons on the Holocaust. This includes the march from the Auschwitz concentration camp to the one in Birkeneau, a walk that impacted Dermer’s wife Rhoda. Speaking at the event with her husband, Rhoda Dermer recalled walking through the Polish city of Krakow.
“You see where the Jews lived, where they prayed and shopped, even one of the first Jewish schools for girls. This was very moving,” Rhoda Dermer was quoted in the press release as saying.
“March of the Living shows that the Jewish people were not just victims. They were also people who built things, who created things, who lived in these dynamic communities. It is so important that the March showcases this as it brings dignity to the Jews who were killed by the Nazis.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, January 15, 2023)