Lesson 6: Holocaust Remembrance — The Responsibility to Educate In acting upon the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, states should commit themselves to implementing the Declaration of the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, which concluded: “We share a commitment to encourage the study of the Holocaust in all its dimensions…
a commitment to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and to honor those who stood against it…
This teaching of contempt, this demonizing of the other, this is where it all began.
As the Canadian courts affirmed in upholding the constitutionality of anti-hate legislation, “the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers — it began with words”.
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And so the abiding imperative — that we are each, wherever we are, the guarantors of each other’s destiny.
Lesson 2: The Danger of State-Sanctioned Incitement to Hatred and Genocide — The Responsibility to Prevent The enduring lesson of the Holocaust is that the genocide of European Jewry succeeded not only because of the industry of death and the technology of terror, but because of the state-sanctioned ideology of hate.
a commitment to plant the seeds of a better future amidst the soil of a bitter past… to remember the victims who perished, respect the survivors still with us, and reaffirm humanity’s common aspiration for mutual understanding and justice.” Lesson 7: The Vulnerability of the Powerless — The Protection of the Vulnerable as the Test of a Just Society The genocide of European Jewry occurred not only because of the vulnerability of the powerless, but also because of the powerlessness of the vulnerable.We have already witnessed an appalling indifference and inaction in our own day which took us down the road to the unspeakable — the genocide in Rwanda — unspeakable because this genocide was preventable. We knew, but we did not act, just as we knew and did not act to stop the genocide by attrition in Darfur.Indifference and inaction always mean coming down on the side of the victimizer, never on the side of the victim.For as we remember the six million Jewish victims of the Shoah — defamed, demonized and dehumanized, as prologue or justification for genocide — we have to understand that the mass murder of six million Jews and millions of non-Jews is not a matter of abstract statistics.For unto each person there is a name — unto each person, there is an identity. As our sages tell us: “whoever saves a single life, it is as if he or she has saved an entire universe.” Just as whoever has killed a single person, it is as if they have killed an entire universe.These, as the Courts put it, are the chilling facts of history. As the UN marks the commemoration of the Holocaust, we are witnessing yet again, a state-sanctioned incitement to hate and genocide, whose epicentre is Ahmadinejad’s Iran. Iran has already committed the crime of incitement to genocide prohibited under the Genocide Convention.Yet not one state party to the Genocide Convention has undertaken its mandated legal obligation to hold Ahmadinejad’s Iran to account. 3: The Danger of Silence, The Consequences of Indifference — The Responsibility to Protect The genocide of European Jewry succeeded not only because of the state-sanctioned culture of hate and industry of death, but because of crimes of indifference, because of conspiracies of silence.Indifference in the face of evil is acquiescence with evil itself.Lesson 4: Combating Mass Atrocity and the Culture of Impunity — The Responsibility to Bring War Criminals to Justice If the 20th Century — symbolized by the Holocaust — was the age of atrocity, it was also the age of impunity.Words may ease the pain, but they may also dwarf the tragedy.For the Holocaust was uniquely evil in its genocidal singularity, where biology was inescapably destiny, a war against the Jews in which, as Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel put it, “not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims.” But while the Holocaust was “uniquely unique” as Holocaust scholar Yehuda Bauer put it, there are important universal lessons to be acted upon.