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Teach About, Do Not Trivialize The Holocaust

This letter appeared in Heritage Florida Jewish News on March 7, 2014.

February 24, 2014

Letters to the Editor
Heritage Florida Jewish News 

Dear Editor:

The way to memorialize victims and to teach the lessons from the monumental human tragedy of the Holocaust is through education—not through inappropriate contemporary Nazi analogies as argued by David Benkof (“The ADL should value Nazi analogies, not call them offensive,” Feb. 21 Heritage).

Benkof’s analogizing endemic signs of Nazis stripping the rights of and de-humanizing Jews during the Holocaust era to present-day examples of policy debate trivializes the Holocaust. This misguided theory confuses the importance of reminding the public of what happens when evil remains unchecked, with modern-day public figures using inflated comparisons of the Holocaust to make a case for non-parallel issues.

The memory of the six million faces many threats. Some emanate from Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites who claim that the camps were a lie. Some come from other historical rewriting. And some come from Holocaust trivialization by use of inappropriate Nazi and/or Hitler analogies in mainstream arenas.

For public figures, Nazi and Hitler analogies have become the political weapon of choice in debates concerning gun control legislation, the affordable healthcare act, voting rights, immigration, abortion, LGBT rights, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other controversial topics. 

Today, young people’s knowledge of the Holocaust is often limited by educators’ choices in planning their classroom curriculum. The lessons of the Holocaust remain relevant and significant in the lives of youth, including the dangers of silence, the consequences of indifference, and the responsibility to protect the vulnerable. Through programs and curriculum in Florida and nationwide, ADL helps educators bring these lessons to life for students.

In Florida alone, 250,000 students have learned about the Holocaust through the League’s “Echoes and Reflections” curriculum, containing testimonies of survivors, liberators and rescuers; 2,000 public and private school teachers have completed Holocaust curriculum training; 130 high school juniors have traveled to DC in ADL’s Grosfeld Family National Youth Leadership Mission to explore the history of the Holocaust and engage in anti-bias activities; 91 Catholic educators have participated in ADL’s Bearing Witness™ Program where they learned about the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and the role of the Catholic Church during WWII; and 75 law enforcement professionals from over 50 federal, state, and local agencies in Florida have participated in ADL’s innovative training, “Law Enforcement and Society (LEAS): Lessons of the Holocaust,” which increases understanding of law enforcements role as protectors of the American people and the Constitution.

Founded in 1913 “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all,” the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has over 100 years of experience in combating anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defending democratic ideals and protecting civil rights for all.  

When the memory of Holocaust victims is trivialized, the Anti-Defamation League will be here to stand up and defend them.  We are committed to their memory, to providing Holocaust education, and to continuing to speak out against those who diminish their circumstance and their lives. 

Hava Leipzig Holzhauer
ADL Florida Regional Director

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"For public figures, Nazi and Hitler analogies have become the political weapon of choice in debates concerning gun control legislation, the affordable healthcare act, voting rights, immigration, abortion, LGBT rights, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and other controversial topics."

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