Holocaust Remembrance Day this year is playing out in an unprecedented way with many ceremonies and services taking place virtually amid the coronavirus crisis.
Although not in-person, the silver lining to having to adapt events to comply with social distancing orders, the day is made even more accessible at a time when our younger generations should be reminded of the atrocities of the Holocaust.
Earlier this year, this reporter spoke with a group of American university students considered to be part of generation Z, who were mostly in their early 20s and late teens, about a 2019 Pew Research study that found that less than half of American adults could recall that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. I learned that the memory is only continuing to escape the minds of the succeeding generations after speaking with seven students, only one of whom could tell me that 6 million Jews were killed, about their knowledge of the Holocaust.
This modern day Nazi has been identified as Matt Slatzer from Canton, Ohio.
Slatzer has an extensive criminal record, including crimes for domestic battery, assault, weapon possession, and drug-related charges. pic.twitter.com/OERABwTeR3
— StopAntisemitism.org (@StopAntisemites) April 21, 2020
The history is slipping away and the coronavirus pandemic is a reminder of that as we’re seeing a rise in antisemitic attacks promoting false accusations that the Jewish people are spreading the virus, often floating false conspiracies similar to the medieval blood libels.
Yoni Michanie, a former paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces, pointed to the historic trend in his recent column for the Jewish New Syndicate writing, “Europe’s Black Plague, Russia’s 1917 Communist Revolution and Germany’s economic turmoil following the conclusion of World War I all saw a disproportionate rise in anti-Semitism. The logic is simple: When a crisis hits, the Jews will serve as worthy scapegoats. Following the Nazis systematic extermination of 6 million Jews, it seemed that the world had finally understood the dangers of anti-Jewish hatred. If it did, it only lasted a short while.”
The rise in hate wasn’t absent this year as many groups gathered online to reflect on the memory of the 6 million Jews who perished. In fact, a Zoom meeting co-hosted by the Israeli Embassy in Berlin and Holocaust survivor Zvi Herschel was disrupted by antisemitic “Zoombombers” who entered the chat room “posting pictures of Hitler and shouting anti-Semitic slogans,” according to Israel’s Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff.
“To dishonour the memory of the #Holocaust and the dignity of the survivor is beyond shame and disgrace and shows the blatant antisemitic nature of the activists,” Amb. Issacharoff wrote on Twitter Monday night.
After a short break the event was reconvened without the activists and conducted in an appropriate and respectful way. To dishonour the memory of the #Holocaust and the dignity of the survivor is beyond shame and disgrace and shows the blatant antisemitic nature of the activists. pic.twitter.com/t79gXPYkIO
— Jeremy Issacharoff (@JIssacharoff) April 21, 2020
Images comparing the Jewish people and the Jewish state to the coronavirus with the hashtag #Covid48 were also trending across Palestinian social media pages on Monday.
On the eve of #YomHaShoah, as #Israel commemorates the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust, there's a campaign going on in Palestinian social media using the hashtag #Covid48.
This wouldn't be the first time Jews are compared to viruses. pic.twitter.com/ZEfTAj73Gv
— Dan Poraz (@PorazDan) April 20, 2020
The recent campaigns of hate are a sobering reminder for people of all faiths to continue to remember the Holocaust and keep the memory of the 6 million Jews who died in Hitler’s genocide alive. Those horrors must be remembered if it is to never happen again and using the virtual space to honor those lives with Holocaust Remembrance Day gives not only those willing to attend these events an opportunity but allows the world the same access to knowing the truth.
Click here to watch a series of testimonies from Holocaust survivors provided by Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem.