We Are Still in the Shadow of the Holocaust

(Telegraph-UK) Michael Gove - This Wednesday we remember the greatest crime ever inflicted by man against his fellow man. Holocaust Memorial Day allows us to reflect on the bleakest chapter in the history of the 20th century. And there is a special urgency in the call to remember this year, of all years - because the shadow of the Holocaust continues to fall over the world today. Mass murder is still deployed as a political tool by tyrants. Racism is returning to the streets of Europe. And anti-Semitism is creeping back into the corridors of power. The extremism of the British fascists of the BNP is mirrored in the equally toxic ideology of anti-Semitic groups such as Islam4Uk and Hizb-ut Tahrir. The history of the Holocaust is the history of a society which blamed the Jews for its miseries, sought to push them to the margins and then sought, literally, to make them vanish from sight. In our time we can see the same trends returning. The calls for boycotts of Jewish thinkers at Israeli universities, the rise in anti-Semitic incidents on our streets, the inflamed rhetoric of vilification which culminates in Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call to wipe Israel off the map, are all connected. Now it is Jewish identity expressed through the right of Israel to self-determination which is the focus of anti-Semitism. Many of Israel's enemies now risk repeating one of the greatest errors of history by infusing anti-Semitism with a new and toxic vibrancy. As the chief rabbi, Lord Sacks, has pointed out, what starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews. History teaches us many lessons, if we are willing to pay attention. And one of the most profound is that the best guide to the health of a society has always been how secure its Jewish community feels. Throughout history the freest societies have been those in which Jewish people have felt safest. And over the ages the surest sign that a country is moving away from liberalism has been a growing prejudice towards the Jewish community. It is because that lesson of history is so important that Holocaust Memorial Day is so crucial. The resurgence of anti-Semitism requires us all to unite against this most poisonous of prejudices. The writer is the British shadow secretary of state for children, schools and families.

2010-01-27 08:36:19

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