This week marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Jews from the Auschwitz Nazi concentration and extermination camps.
It is a solemn occasion, whose marking is as relevant today as it was a half century ago.
As Soviet troops advanced towards the camps in January 1945, many of the prisoners were evacuated and forced to march to their deaths. Those who remained were liberated on January 27, 1945 – a day now known as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
At least 1.1 million people died at the Auschwitz camps, the overwhelming majority of them Jewish. But the Nazi regime also targeted other groups – Romanis, Poles, Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals.
More broadly, around 11 million were killed during the Nazi regimes reign of terror, more than half of them Jewish. It was, and remains, the greatest mass murder in global history.
There are, sadly, some in the Australian community, predominantly on the left of politics, who seek to diminish the significance of what happened to the Jews during the war, and the importance of acknowledging the Holocaust.
It’s true that the modern policies of the state of Israel cannot be justified. Israel’s ongoing aggression against its neighbours, and its illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza – and the brutal oppression and murder of its citizens – is as grave a 21st century human rights abuse as anywhere on earth.
However, slaughter is not a competition. Those who believe that Israel’s actions today in any way lessen the importance of acknowledging a slaughter almost three quarters of a century ago are deeply misguided.
When you reach the point where your hatred of Israel today blinds you to the outrages inflicted on innocent Jewish men, women and children yesterday – and on millions of other innocent victims – it’s time to acknowledge that you might actually be part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.
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