Today Israel commemorates the Holocaust. Since yesterday, Israeli social media has been filled with attacks, as, on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Reuven Rivlin and IDF deputy chief of Staff, Yair Golan each in his own way called on Israelis to do some serious soul searching.
The public unfortunately has gotten used to seeing Rivlin in the line of fire. But public and social media attacks on Golan were so outrageous that Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (Likud) said they were part of a broader populist campaign against the IDF.
The main criticism of Golan was that his comparison of present-day Israel and 1930s Germany is unacceptable. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) said his remarks “attest mainly to a lack of understanding, ignorance, and a cheapening of the Holocaust. On such a day, I wouldn’t even want to quote what he said.” Her party chair, Education Minister Naftali Bennett said “God forbid, our troops are likened to Nazis, with a kosher stamp from on high.”
Avi Dabush (Meretz) responded in a powerful post drawing from theJewish tradition. Dabush referred back to the most famous phrase in the Passover Hagada, “In every generation, each person must regard himself or herself as if he or she had come out of Egypt.” He writes, “In every generation, each person must not compare?”
The mighty ocean of Judaism provides me with many moral compasses…
How does Judaism handle a trauma? Whether it is the Egyptian enslavement, or the destruction of the First and Second Temples? Jewish tradition always tries to learn lessons from traumas. Compare. Demand an internal soul search. Form guidelines for the future.
Many of the Bible’s directives are based on one winning argument: “because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” … These are directives to love the stranger, the orphan and the widow. They stretch the line between the horrifying violence we suffered in Egypt and our responsibility to create a society that will not be on this continuum. In every generation a person must …
Meretz Knesset member Tamar Zandberg too responded, publishing the following post:
We must learn a lesson from the Holocaust. “The Holocaust will forever place us, the Jewish people, as eternal prosecutors on the stage of humanity,” said President Rivlin yesterday at the official Yad Vashem ceremony.
The question therefore is not whether we should or can learn a lesson from the Holocaust, but what kind of lesson are we learning.
We can choose President Rivlin’s lesson, which says that the Jewish people are “a prosecutor against anti-Semitism, racism and ultra-nationalism.” It is a universal lesson of self-defense, loving all men for we were all created in the image of God.
We can choose the lesson of the Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan, who reminded us that “there is nothing simpler and easier than hating the foreigner; there is nothing easier and simpler than arousing fears and intimidating; there is nothing easier and simpler than becoming bestial, forgoing principles and becoming smug. On Holocaust remembrance day, it is worthwhile to ponder our capacity to uproot the first signs of intolerance, violence, and self-destruction that arise on the path to moral degradation.”
Or we can choose the lesson of the herd of social media commenters who attacked both Rivlin and Golan. The writers who demand firing Rivlin and Golan and paint them as Nazis. The writers who curse Zahava Galon’s mother, a Holocaust survivor, simply because her daughter shared her story.