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Holocaust Remembrance Day: Grieve or Rejoice?

By | January 27, 2020 | 12 Comments

January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The day is marked by ceremonies in Israel and across the world, which are attended by members of Jewish organizations and a few non-Jews. In fact, except in Israel, the day is largely ignored.

Still, one must admit that there are various ways to observe such a holiday. Some grieve for the six million Jews (including one million children) who were exterminated by the Nazis and their helpers, and resolve to do whatever they can to assure that it never happens again. Others rejoice at the memory of the Holocaust, and resolve to do whatever they can to assure that it does happen again ‒ as soon as possible.

Whether there are more grievers or rejoicers in the world is a question I leave for your consideration.

Mireille Knoll, shown with her granddaughter, was an 85-year-old French Jew. She was a Holocaust survivor, who managed to evade the 1942 roundup of Jews in the Paris region. They were crowded into the bicycle stadium, the Vélodrome d’Hiver, before being transported to death camps. French authorities helped the Nazis to carry out the roundup. The stadium no longer exists. The memory of what happened there also barely exists.

Madame Knoll lived with a caretaker in an apartment. On March 24 she was assaulted by two men. She was stabbed 11 times and then partially burned, apparently in an unsuccessful attempt to set the apartment on fire and cover up the crime. Both men are in custody. Police have released few details. One was a 27-year-old neighbor who had previously been charged with sexually assaulting the 12-year-old daughter of Mme. Knoll’s caretaker. Why he was roaming free was not explained. The other assailant was a 21-year-old homeless man with a history of violence.

Police did not name either assailant, but the neighbor was described as a Muslim. They were charged with murder with the hate-crime of anti-Semitism, a charge that French officials are hesitant to make. So when they do make it, one can assume that the evidence is overwhelming.

Dr. Sarah Allal Halimi was a 65-year-old retired physician, teacher, and mother. On April 4, 2017, not quite a year before the murder of Mme. Knoll, she was beaten and thrown out of a third-floor window by a Muslim neighbor who quoted the Quran and shouted “Allahu akbar.” He was declared insane and committed to an institution.

As with the Knoll case, authorities were reluctant to name the religion or ethnicity of the assailant. In fact, it was not until February 2018 ‒ ten months after the crime ‒ that a judge reversed the earlier decision and agreed to call Dr. Halimi’s murder a hate crime of anti-Semitism. Dealing with a complex problem is difficult enough. Refusing even to name the problem makes the solution unattainable.

French prosecutors dropped charges against the murderer because he had smoked marijuana. He no longer faces imprisonment. But as he threw the victim out the window he yelled that she was killing herself. He was conscious of guilt and already planning a defense.

Like drugs, surrendering impairs judgment. Like drugs, surrendering is habit-forming. The French government has the habit. But some Frenchmen do not.

Lt. Col. Arnaud Beltrame exchanged himself for a hostage and was killed by a Muslim terrorist in southern France. This happened the same day that Mme. Knoll was murdered. Beltrame was shot and his throat was slashed. His heroic action was praised the world over. We need heroes in times of crisis.

But perhaps even more, we need people with the wisdom to prevent crises. For example, we need officials with the wisdom to limit immigration to those who will share the ideals of our nation and our culture. If we had such officials, Madame Knoll and Doctor Halimi would still be enjoying their families, and Lt. Col. Beltrame would still be serving his country.

The purpose of Holocaust Remembrance Day is not merely a history lesson. The purpose is to make “Never again!” a reality rather than just a slogan. Until we take that mission seriously, we will have more Knolls and Halimis to mourn, and we will need more Beltrames to admire.

Author’s Note: If you want a vague idea of that the Holocaust was really like, and if you have a strong stomach, watch this documentary film made by award-winning director George Stevens for the U.S. Government. https://archive.org/details/gov.archives.arc.43452

Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.
www.stolinsky.com

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