Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The UN recognized the 27th of January as the international Holocaust commemoration day. Also, the resolution that was accepted today at the UN ( without a vote ) talks about rejecting Holocaust denial, promoting Holocaust/genocide-related educational programs etc.
To be honest, my first thought was "So what?". This resolution won't really change anything. The countries, peoples, organizations and individuals whose opinion, understanding and sympathy I care about already recognize the Holocaust for what it is. In most cases they already remember the Holocaust, learn and teach about it, honor the victims and place it within the proper context. Empty UN-sponsored/inspired commemoration ceremonies will not contribute very much. States, organizations and individuals that until now have been denying, trivializing or praising the Holocaust will not be moved by this resolution towards recognition of the murder of the 6 million Jews. No anti-Semite will suddenly start loving Jews or seriously studying the history of the Jews and other persecuted minorities in the years 1933-45 because of this or that UN resolution.
This was basically a diplomatic excercise by Israel to score some UN points, or some show of diplomatic strength. True, the Holocaust played a significant role in the genesis of both the Jewish state and the UN, but I do not think that Israel should devote so many diplomatic (wo)man-hours to 'pushing' the Holocaust, certainly not at the UN. Anti-Semitism and other forms of racism are another issue, and within the framework of the fight against them the Holocaust must obviously be mentioned. Israel would have created a lot of goodwill if it had lobbied for one day to remember the Holocaust as viewed within the context of other genocides, while stressing its unique character. Now, as could be expected, we are - wrongly, but that is irrelevant when it comes to PR - accused of claiming one day for the suffering of 'only' six million.
Personally I think that Israel should not make the Holocaust into a diplomatic subject. Enough organizations - Jewish and non-Jewish - are dealing with it, often very well, and the state's diplomats should leave the subject to educators, historians and others. If Israel really wants to honor the victims and survivors of the Shoah, it could make a much bigger effort to alleviate the problems and suffering of some of the survivors who are having a hard time to get by these days. Of course, unlike today's 'victory' at the UN, interviews in various media and lectures abroad, such an effort would provide officials, diplomats and politicians with little publicity and few photo-ops.

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