Eli Hazan (Likud Party) on the significance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day for the entire free world.
Journalist Helen Thomas was a highly valued figure at the White House. She greatly affected the U.S. agenda and belonged to the so-called "American Mainstream." But in March 2011, she amazed the world while being interviewed by Playboy Magazine, when she asked, "Why do we have to mention the Holocaust all the time?"
Thomas' words were tragic, not only because of the historical truth but also because of the dangerous implications of her words. While she did not deny the Holocaust, she tried to delegitimize its memory. This is when I realized how significant International Holocaust Remembrance Day is for the entire free world.
This day was first observed in 2006, thanks to a U.N. resolution passed on November 1st, 2005. Its day to be observed, January 27th, is significant because it is the day of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp. It is important for people to recognize not only because of repudiations like those from Helen Thomas, but also because today, everybody is preoccupied with technology and media so much so that few people still give attention to events like the Holocaust. Now, this day helps people around the world have the chance to remember the catastrophe that occurred in Europe over 70 years ago. If we do not continue efforts to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, we risk it being forgotten.
At the end of last year, the film "Denial" was released, starring Rachel Weisz. It details the struggle of Deborah Lipstadt against British historian David Irving, a Holocaust denier. In 2000, she won the trial against him when the judge ruled in her favor, but the phenomenon of Holocaust denial has not stopped since then. In too many places across the globe, there are still far too many Holocaust deniers. The internet allows them to spread their lies more effectively than ever. On one day a year, the international community allows us to fight them more effectively.
Dealing with Holocaust denial, though, is not the only reason this day is so important. We Jews and Israelis vowed after the Holocaust "Never Again." The State of Israel is the home of the Jewish people that allows us to defend any Jew who wants to be part of the state.
Unfortunately, despite calls for "Never Again," there are quite a few places in the world where murderous tragedies still occur. For example, not far from our northern border, unspeakable atrocities are taking place in Syria. Because we remember "Never Again," we are implored as Jews to help the victims of the Syrian war, as we have since it began raging in 2011.
We must remember to never forget the Holocaust in order to prevent similar incidents from happening again. Sadly, doing this at the moment looks extremely complicated. As we look forward to facing these challenges, I quote Ze’ev Jebotinsky, the father of the Likud Party, "It is hard – that it can be."
Eli Hazan is Likud's Director of Foreign Affairs. The content of his opinion piece does not reflect the official opinion of ACRE. Responsibility for the information and views expressed in the opinion piece lies entirely with the author.