New York, NY, April 24, 2017 … Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day in the Jewish calendar, is observed today. The Anti-Defamation League remembers the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis, and the many millions more who perished at their hands. We recall the precious few who acted to protect the persecuted, and all who gave their lives in the struggle to defeat Nazism.
The enormity of the evil that was the Shoah defies definition. The numbers themselves are incomprehensible. The extent of collective human cruelty and the utter failure of morality could not be imagined were they not historical facts. But even while we struggle to understand, the ethical imperative of “Never Again” is crystal clear. We must not allow what happened to the Jews to happen again – to us or to anyone else.
It is for that reason ADL is committed to fighting the defamation of the Jewish people and securing justice and fair treatment to all.
One of the enduring lessons of the Shoah is the obligation to provide safe haven for refugees. How many Jews died because they had nowhere to flee, because borders were closed, because people feared the stranger? The plight of today’s refugees calls for decisive action by the international community and by the American administration. ADL has repeatedly called for a compassionate response to the refugee crisis.
The Holocaust was the ultimate manifestation of anti-Semitism and it couldn’t have happened without the millennia of anti-Semitism deeply embedded in Western civilization. Unfortunately, today we are witnessing a resurgence of anti-Semitism around the world. Our just released Audit of anti-Semitic Incidents, which showed an 86 percent increase of incidents in the first quarter of 2017, is a reminder that anti-Semitism is not just history; it is also a current event.
ADL is also deeply concerned that the careless and imprecise invocation of the Holocaust by public officials is disrespectful to the victims and diminishes the power of the Holocaust to serve as a warning for future generations. Furthermore, the debate that ensues following such misuse of the term distracts us from addressing the dire situations that face us, situations in which people are dying every day. We must use comparisons to the Holocaust judiciously or they will become meaningless.
We best honor the memory of the victims of the Shoah when we work together for human dignity, for a world in which the life of every human being is recognized as sacred, and in which each person is free from want and from fear.