If It Is Not Genocide, Don't Compare It To The Holocaust
November 10, 2022
There are far too many atrocities that both have occurred in recent times and that continue to occur. They need to be reported upon, discussed, and universally condemned. Moreover, we need to do what we can to punish those who are behind the atrocities and eradicate the seeds that sow them. However, the Holocaust can not be the comparison when an atrocity does not rise to the level of genocide.
Even Wikipedia starts out its description of the Holocaust by saying that “[t]he Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was the genocide of European Jews during World War II.” Of course the story of the Holocaust does not begin or end there, but it is certainly centers around Adolf Hitler and the Nazis’ “Final Solution” to the “Jewish Question.” For these reasons, Jews like myself have had a good deal of education about the Holocaust as children. Some of us, like my family, have family trees with branches that are lopped off because our family members who came and left before us were murdered by the Nazis in concentration camps. In these concentration camps, Jews, among others such as black Germans, people with disabilities, communists, and members of the LGBT community were gassed, shot, and beaten to death. Some also died from disease, starvation, and from being the subject of Nazi medical experiments. If you’re reading this, you likely know about everything in this paragraph, aside from my own family’s history. Sadly though, many do not know the history of the Holocaust.
In a survey reported on by NBC News in 2020, it was discovered in a survey that among adults under 40, over 1 in 10 had never even heard the word “Holocaust” before. Moreover, 63% of millennial and Generation Z individuals surveyed did not know that 6 million Jews perished in the Holocaust, with half of them believing the total to have been under 2 million. Over half of those surveyed could not even name one concentration camp. We will soon be in an era where no living Holocaust survivors remain. The lack of knowledge about the Holocaust is terrifying to the Jewish community, especially when coupled with the largest number of antisemitic incidents since the statistics started being tracked in 1979.
I write this letter because we are living in a time when Holocaust denial and Holocaust minimization are problems on the rise both locally and nationally. We can look to Ohio where a Republican representative wants to teach the “German soldiers” perspective of the Holocaust. Locally, as most of you know, we can look at Councilmember Alex Fisch’s recent comments minimizing the Holocaust and his subsequent doubling down on his comments at a Culver City Democratic Club meeting via zoom, which I attended and can attest to firsthand. After I spoke up against Councilmember Fisch’s comments, the zoom message board was none too kind to me. I asked one of the commenters if he/she/they was Jewish and/or had family trees with branches missing due to family members being murdered in the Holocaust. Councilmember Fisch typed, “I am, Eric.” I responded that I knew as much and that is why he should know better. He does know better. He hurt many members of the Jewish community and, to my knowledge, has yet to apologize. Heck, even Kyrie Irving had his PR team issue an apology statement.
Unfortunately, we are living in an age when far too many individuals know very little if anything about the Holocaust and where some that possess the knowledge, minimize the Holocaust as Councilmember Fisch did. Others go as far as to deny it ever happened. Without teaching the history of the Holocaust, we are doomed to repeat it. However, I was taught in school by a professor that it is not enough to identify a problem, we must propose solutions. So here are mine: 1) Encourage an increase in the amount of Holocaust education in our high schools both locally and nationally; and 2) Speak up when someone denies or minimizes the Holocaust. Many things are abhorrent. Our treatment of people experiencing homelessness is cruel and we should be housing them, providing them with social services, and treating them with respect. That said, they are not being sent to concentration camps to be murdered. Another example: President Donald Trump was and is a racist, misogynist con man; however, he was not Adolf Hitler coming up with a “Final Solution” to the “Jewish Question.”
I will conclude by saying that it is easy to call out hate, discrimination, and misinformation when it comes from the other side of the political aisle. We see it on television everyday and on social media by the minute. We should keep calling out that hate, discrimination, and misinformation from the other side, but we must also hold people on our own side of the aisle to the same standards. Hate is hate. Discrimination is discrimination. Misinformation is misinformation. Let’s strive to eradicate all of it, no matter where it exists.