May 5th, 2016

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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.

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