Jewish Journal

Time to rethink our “never again” promise…

by Noga Gur-Arieh

June 4, 2014 | 8:33 am

A wake-up call for us all / photo courtesy of theinglouriousbasterds.com

“Never again means NEVER AGAIN” – in the past couple of months, I encountered this sentence online more times than I can count. It is usually associated with Israel’s National Holocaust Remembrance Day. We were taught this sentence every year since first grade, when our teacher explained how it is up to us to keep history from repeating itself by remembering and reminding others the horrors of the Holocaust.

This sentence resurfaces every year during that day, on my friends’ Facebook walls. I also post it and share it, and we’re all dedicated to living up to this promise. Unfortunately, as this powerful sentence spreads across the web and penetrates people’s hearts, a new realization sinks in: the promise to prevent those horrors from repeating slowly crumbles. It is happening again.

Throughout the years, researchers tried to find an answer to the question: “Does history repeat itself?” Some believe it does, some believe it doesn’t, some believe only certain aspects are doomed to repeat themselves over and over again until the end of time. One of those aspects is war, which happened before and will happen again as long as the two things people are willing to kill for - nationalism and religion - continue to exist.

About 80 years ago, people in Germany were frustrated. The loss of WWI came with a high cost, and many were stripped of their assets and their pride.  People were looking for someone to blame, and a small political party came up with an answer. Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party blamed all of Germany’s problems on the Jews and the people followed. Some were just happy to hear that their problems are not their fault, others took action and joined the Nazi party’s efforts in “migrating the problem.” The seeds of hatred sawed by Hitler grew to become the Holocaust, which we later swore to “never let happen again.”

Now, decades later, the path to destruction is being built again. As we promise “never again,” more than 18,000 anti-Semite Tweets were posted after Maccabi Tel Aviv’s win over Real Madrid in the Euroleague final. As we promise “never again,” teenagers play “Jews vs. Nazis” beer-pong, a man enters the Brussels Jewish Museum and kills 3 people, a French comedian makes the reverse Nazi salute (Quenelle) popular, a Jewish teacher is being attacked and marked with Swastika, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. In a meantime, Israelis are leaving Israel, moving to Berlin and Budapest with the hope of a better life.

This cannot and will not be stopped. As people become more hateful, turning their anger and frustration from their own failures on others, their elected officials try to match their voter’s wishes. Slowly but surely, far-right, neo-Nazi parties take over parliaments in Europe. Hungary's third largest party is the neo-Nazi Jobbik. Greece’s Golden Dawn is also a growing power, and recently it even entered the European Parliament for the first time.

As political parties driven by hate take over Europe, who is going to stop people from committing hate-crimes? The times are different, the people are different, but nationalism is the same. We still proudly announce “never again” after every report of a hate-crime against members of the Jewish community, but the time has come for us to ask: can we keep that promise?

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My name is Noga Gur-Arieh, and I’m an Israeli Journalist, currently studying for my B.A degree in Media and Political Science, at Tel Aviv University.

I am very socially...

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