Orla Guerin’s report shows what’s wrong with Holocaust remembrance

International correspondent Orla Geruin appearing on BBC News at Ten on Wednesday (Credit: BBC iPlayer)
International correspondent Orla Geruin appearing on BBC News. (photo: BBC iPlayer)
A short TV news report attracted fierce criticism, with some suggesting Guerin’s comments sought to draw parallels between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Holocaust.

By Robert A. H. Cohen | Writing from the Edge  | Jan 26, 2020

The undeniable truth is that Palestinians are part of the post Holocaust story too.

As I become older I realize that the Holocaust is not over. The gas chambers and incinerators are gone but the consequences of the horror will continue to play out in the decades and even centuries to come. Our understanding of who we are as Jews, our place in the world, our politics, how others view us, even our theology, continues to be shaped, indeed defined, by the Holocaust.

Why would it be otherwise?

Just as with earlier major turning points of Jewish history – the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70 or the expulsion from Spain in 1492 – the Holocaust changed everything. A third of our people were destroyed along with their culture and heritage. But none of us were left untouched whether we were alive then or born since. Or are yet to be born.

As Jews we have every reason to be sensitive about how the Holocaust is spoken about. What happened should be remembered. It should be taught. Mourning is necessary and reverence is needed, if only to help us to heal.

In remembering the Holocaust, we understandably focus on the past. What happened. And why. We raise up the voices of the remaining survivors so they can give their personal testimony one more time before they become too frail. We ask the leaders of nations to recommit to fighting antisemitism. We engage with our neighbors at a community level and work to create a shared acceptance of the need to remember, and for some, atone.

But there are dangers in how we remember too.

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