osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

Obama Uses Yom HaShoah Address Worth Reading For Several Reasons

Obama Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Rememberance Day) address is important for many reasons. I link here. I will quote in entirety below the cut.

But here are the key points that are worth observing.

1. Obama structures this respectfully so as to accomplish 2 goals, to show appropriate rememberance for the actual victims of the Holocaust and respect it as a uniquely Jewish tragedy, while also generalizing out the lesson as relevant to everyone. Which is the point. Judiasm has a bunch of memorials and days where we remember devestating holocausts. (It says alot about our history that we have a whole bunch of rememberances and customs around this.) But the destruction of the Temple, the massacre and enslavement of Jews by Romans following the Bar Kochba Revolt, the crusades, Tach-v'Tat, etc. are not of particular interest to the world because they are not nearly as generalizable.

What makes the Holocaust worthy of rememberance and study by more than just those directly impacted was the way in which a supposedly modern state, with no de jur discrimination against Jews and where Jews had integrated and assimilated into the local population for nearly a century, could revert relatively quickly to a regime that not merely dsicriminated, but developed a formal extermination program executed with rigorous efficiency.

Obama in his remarks starts with the very specific tragedy of the Holocaust, generalizes to Jews suffering anti-Semitism today, then expands to everyone to feel solidarity. This style mirrors what is so great about the Gettysburg address. Lincoln starts with honoring the dead, then brings it back to "us, the living."

2. Obama raises awareness of the rise in anti-semitism in the EU and the US.  This is real, and continues to grow. At the same time, note that Obama stears clear of any linkage with the Israel/Palestine conflict. This is as it should be. Political conflict invariably gives rise to religious and/or ethnic hate. It is the responsibility of us all to separate the two.

Statement by the President on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today, on Yom HaShoah, we solemnly remember the six million Jews and the millions of others murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

On this day, we honor the memory of the millions of individuals – the mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, friends and neighbors – who lost their lives during a time of unparalleled depravity and inhumanity.  We reaffirm our ongoing responsibility as citizens and as a nation to live out the admonition, “Never forget. Never again.”  And we commit ourselves to preserving the memories of those who lived through the horrors of the Shoah, so that their experiences are not forgotten by our generation or by our children or grandchildren.

We also honor those who survived the Holocaust, many of them spared from death because of the righteous individuals who risked their lives to save Jews and other victims from Nazi persecution.  The stories of these survivors and their protectors remind us to confront persecution wherever it arises, and that silence can be an accomplice to evil.  They remind us of our duty to counter the rising tide of anti-Semitism, bigotry and hatred that threaten the values we hold dear—pluralism, diversity, and the freedoms of religion and expression.

Today, and every day, we stand in solidarity with the Jewish community both at home and abroad.  We stand with those who are leaving the European cities where they have lived for generations because they no longer feel safe, with the members of institutions that have been attacked because of their Jewish affiliations, and with the college students forced to confront swastikas appearing on their campuses.  And we call upon all people of good will to be vigilant and vocal against every form of bigotry.

When we recognize our interconnectedness and the fundamental dignity and equality of every human being, we help to build a world that is more accepting, secure and free.  This is the best way to honor the legacy we recognize on Yom HaShoah and to fulfill our responsibilities to repair our world from generation to generation.


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