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Don’t Stand By


Today is the UN’s internationally designated Holocaust Memorial Day. (Not to be confused with Yom HaShoah, which falls in early May this year.)

This year, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust is urging us to not only remember the victims of the Holocaust, but to turn our focus towards fighting persecution that is taking place in today’s world, right here in 2016:

Don’t stand by is the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2016.

The Holocaust and subsequent genocides took place because the local populations allowed insidious persecution to take root. Whilst some actively supported or facilitated state policies of persecution, the vast majority stood by silently – at best, afraid to speak out; at worst, indifferent. Bystanders enabled the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and subsequent genocides.

We said “Never Again” but that did nothing to stop genocides in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia or Darfur.

We said “Never Forget” but we can’t apply that only to antisemitism when there’s so much discrimination even in our supposedly democratic, free home countries, against people with different skin colours, gender identities, sexual orientations, religions or traditions.

We tore down the concentration camps in Europe and made them into museums. But prisoners are still being sent to death camps in places like North Korea.

Adolf Hitler has been dead for 70 years, but politicians are still running for office and using minority-baiting and drumming up hate, fear and prejudice in order to gain power.

We’ve acknowledged the tragic outcome of saying “none is too many” and yet we still react in fear when desperate refugees from civil wars in places like Syria want to come to our shores.

Competing about tragedies (“ours was worse than yours”) only serves to divide us, to pit us against each other and to further build walls between humans. Instead, let’s focus on calling out injustice and persecution wherever we see it. Not just today, but every day.

It’s not just about being Jewish. It’s about being human.


The news that the infamous “Arbeit macht frei” sign that hung over Auschwitz had been stolen last Friday sent shockwaves around the world. Now, Polish police say they have recovered the sign and apprehended the thieves:

KRAKOW, Poland – Polish police said Monday they had recovered the Nazi German “Arbeit macht frei” sign stolen from the former Auschwitz death camp, but said five arrested suspects had no neo-Nazi links.

Andrzej Rokita, commander in the southern Polish city of Krakow, told reporters that “from the information we have none of the five belong to a neo-Nazi group nor hold such ideas”.

The five suspects, aged 20 to 39 and with previous criminal records for theft or violence, faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted, police said.

The thieves themsevels seem to have been hired guns, in it for the money. It remains to be seen whether they were hired by someone with more sinister motives. In any case, the whole episode was extremely bizarre.

But for those asking what kind of scum of the earth would do such a thing, I’d have to say that question should more appropriately be asked of those who perpetrated the crime of Auschwitz in the first place.

Update 01/04: The theft was apparently ordered by a British neo-Nazi, in yet another example of hate being stronger than cash.

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Austria shields wanted Nazi war criminal


He’s ranked number four in a list of the world’s most wanted and notorious Nazi war criminals. But – all together now – that doesn’t mean he’s not a nice person, right? Milivoj Asner caused a stir just by showing up at a soccer game: The frail 95-year-old is ranked No. 4 on a leading […]

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Remembering Raoul Wallenberg


Today is Raoul Wallenberg Day in Canada. Not many people know that. I knew but forgot, and had to be reminded by this article in today’s paper: He is one of only two honourary Canadian citizens (along with Nelson Mandela), yet few know of him. One of the greatest humanitarians of the 20th century, yet […]

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Oprah’s new book club pick


Oprah Winfrey has selected Elie Wiesel’s “Night” as her latest book club pick, catapulting the famous book on the Holocaust onto the bestseller list over a half-century after it was first published. “Night” was required reading in high school French class (though I seem to remember most of us cheating by picking up the English […]

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Beliefs versus facts


Something Damian Penny wrote the other day came back to me just now: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” Damian was, of course, referring to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial. However, I think the quote is a good one, and it popped into my head when I read about today’s […]

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Not much of a threat


European Union to Iran: stop denying the Holocaust, or we’ll denounce you. I’m sure that threat has Ahmadinejad shaking in his boots. The real question is whether Ahmadinejad is calculating and shrewd, or if he’s merely off his rocker. Most of the time, rhetoric and provocation like this is done on purpose by despots looking […]

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Are you sure they don’t mean Anti-Israel day?


Well, I never thought I’d live to see the day when this would happen: The United Nations has unanimously declared an international Holocaust Day in commemoration of the Holocaust and as a stand against antisemitism and genocide: The United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday unanimously approved a proposal to set January 27 as the “International […]

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Yom HaShoah


Today is Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is a day to remember the 6 million who perished. But beyond that, it is a day of reflection: on the world that let it happen, on Jewish identity before and after the Holocaust, on Israel and its role, and on where we go from here. […]

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60 years after Auschwitz


I can’t seem to find the words today to express my feelings reflecting on the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz: Horror at the atrocities that will be shocking no matter how many times we hear or read about them. Pride that the Jewish people is today so strong and is standing at the […]

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