Lessons of the Holocaust

Does it make sense to say that we should learn lessons from the Holocaust? I believe it does – and they are clear.
For Jews, Menachem Begin, speaking in 1981, said it best:
“First, if an enemy of our people says he seeks to destroy us, believe him. Don’t doubt him for a moment. Don’t make light of it. Do all in your power to deny him the means of carrying out his satanic intent.

Murder of Jews in Ivangorod 1942

 

Second, when a Jew anywhere is threatened, or under attack, do all in your power to come to his aid. Never pause to wonder what the world will think or say. The world will never pity slaughtered Jews. The world may not necessarily like the fighting Jew, but the world will have to take account of him.”

The last Jew in Vinnitsa shot at edge of pit 1941

 

In the 1930s the Jews of Germany, and much of Europe, thought that they belonged to the most advanced and progressive civilisation the world had ever seen. They could not believe that the people who had thrilled with them to Beethoven and Goethe, and together with them had probed the secrets of the universe and the heart of the atom, would unleash on them a merciless barbarism as murderous as that of Genghis Khan. But they did.

Partisan Brigade of Abba Kovner & Benjamin Levin at Vilna Liberation 1944

 

For Gentiles, it is even simpler. Because of our long history of being persecuted, Jews have the most acute antennae for it. So if a Jew calls out antisemitism, don’t question them. Believe them. If you can’t bring yourself to support them, at least don’t try to silence them.
If, however, you dismiss Jewish accusations of antisemitism as being in bad faith, and support anti-Jewish remarks as ‘fair comment’; if you tell Jews that after 75 years it’s high time they ‘got over’ the Holocaust; if you condemn the government and armed forces of Israel for preventing the murder of its citizens by any means necessary; and, most wickedly of all, if you try to demoralise young Jews by lying to them that “Israel is doing to the Palestinian Arabs what the Nazis did to the Jews”; then, deny it though you may, I am afraid you are committing acts of antisemitism.

Woman Soldiers of the Israeli Defence Force

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Always Comes in Threes…

Yesterday we lost three great men from the world of entertainment. Ron Moody was a tremendous character actor of many decades’ standing, best-remembered for his performance as Fagin in the 1968 musical ‘Oliver!’ Ornette Coleman pretty much invented free jazz in the 1960s, and is as towering a figure in the field of jazz as Dizzy Gillespie in the 1940s and Louis Armstrong in the 1920s. But the loss I feel most deeply is Sir Christopher Lee. In a film career spanning over 60 years, in extreme old age he reached a new generation as Count Dooku and Saruman: but or course he is, and forever will be, the quintessential Count Dracula. His tall, spare screen presence and rich, resonant voice have never been matched: for me as a child, he was the embodiment onscreen of all I thought a man should be. May all their dear souls be bound up in the bonds of life eternal.

It Was Alright In The 1970s

Cecil Rhodes said: “To be born English is to win first prize in the lottery of life.” This is often seen as an expression of gloating triumphalism: but I would rather view it as a precursor of a well-known arachnid-related character’s catchphrase: “With great power comes great responsibility”.
So I was very depressed to see the harmless telly of the 1970s disembowelled by the sneers and exaggerated shock of a bunch of young whippersnappers in ‘It Was Alright In The 1970s’ (Ch4, 16th & 23rd Nov). They even managed to parade a couple of chaps who had actually been in the 1970s progs to shamefacedly condemn them, like Western hostages of the IS about to be beheaded.
The 1970s was the time of my teens and young adulthood. It was a golden era of galloping progress: we looked back at the war and the 1950s and saw how far we had come in terms of free speech, mod cons and technological development in every sphere. Everything seemed possible. I was looking forward to a life where I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to and might actually have a rich and enjoyable sex life, rather than the pre-60s norm of one fumbling and awkward shag leading to a couple with nothing in common being chained together for a lifetime for the sake of the child.
Didn’t quite work out like that, did it? Today the universe of public discourse seems to be hurtling back to a pre-Enlightenment mindset, where the rational separation between words and actions is being erased. We seem to have lost all psychological robustness.
I was much happier in a world where I could be unthinkingly happy to be male, heterosexual, British and white(-ish). I shall check my privilege when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.