For the Children
"All that is necessary for evil to triumph
is for good men to do nothing." Edmund Burke's words struck home as I
stared at the stone etching of a toddler named Uziel. His features are
flawlessly carved into a stone wall of the children's monument at Yad
Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. Just as the dimples in his
cheeks, formed by his enthusiastic smile and twinkling eyes, are in that
stone, the little boy's face is etched into my mind forever. As I stood
there, I reflected, "What evil could possess a man to murder innocent
children?" and "What could good men have done?"
It is said that a child learns by what he sees. What happens in a man's life as the result of an unstable home where hate is taught? Where a tyrannical father has a "mania for cruelty?" (Miller 53) Adolf Hitler, the product of such a home, and diabolical dictator who masterminded the genocide of millions, showed no mercy for children. But the dysfunctional home of one man does not explain a nation working to fulfill his hateful vision. Could it be that a society kept in darkness by ignorance can be manipulated with greed by others that are driven by hate?
Hitler knew that education was vital. Depriving Jewish children of attending school, he poisoned other children's minds with lies. "Home and religion were expected to count as nothing." In the schools that Hitler controlled, young boys were taught that "Hitler was savior, foreigners were to be hated, the strong rightfully kill the weak, and a pure race is the only good race." (Miller 77) The propaganda media stifled the truth. Jews were segregated from main society and eventually taken to concentration camps where they were abused, and more often that not, murdered and buried without a marker of remembrance.
There were warning signs that led to this mass murdering. "The Holocaust didn't just happen all at once. It was a process..." (HaLevi) As far back as 632 A.D., under Mohammedan rule, Jews were required to wear yellow. This made them identifiable as non-Muslims to be persecuted. (Gabriel 124) Had European society been aware of this history? Could they have heeded Hitler's yellow stars as a warning? Holocaust survivor, Sol Rosenberg, remembers the blaming of Jews for Poland's economic downfall as an early stage of anti-Semitism fueled by greed.(Chardkoff26).
Should testimonies from the Holocaust be told simply for the retelling, or are they relevant for today? Jewish Holocaust survivor Rose Price recently returned to her hometown in Poland, where her life was again threatened on the basis of race. In the Ukraine ''those who seek to remember the Holocaust often confront…hostility..." A Jewish leader says "… I'm losing hope..." (Collie) In America, under the guise of Christianity, white supremacists, teach prejudice against other races. Zionist Walid Shoebat, a Christian Palestinian and former Muslim says "The Holocaust never ended, but the victims have decided to defend themselves…" (Shoebat 21) As a child he was taught to sing about killing Jews: "sharpen my bones into swords and make my flesh into Molotov cocktails," (Arutz Sheva) An article in the Jerusalem Post states "...the reality is that after years of brainwashing, from kindergarten onwards... the Palestinian population… have in fact undergone a process not dissimilar to the draconian transformation of … Germans under the Nazis." (Leibler) How frightening to make the comparison of a current society to the Nazi regime. These are today's warning signs. What are good men doing about them?
It has been instilled in me that no race is superior to another and that hate is deadly. If it were taught to the children of the world, the Golden Rule, to love our neighbor as our self, seems to me the answer to the world's problem of hate.
I know a girl, not much older than me, who serves in the Israeli army. She said that because Israel remembers the hatred shown Jews in the Holocaust, it is Israel's policy to not teach hatred in public schools. Israel chooses to fight hate with respect for others. Dr. Miriam Zimmerman, a Jewish professor in California, teaches about the Holocaust and the Jewish roots of Christianity in a Catholic school. In Israel she has traveled to Christian as well as Jewish sites and befriended Christian Palestinians who travel to Auschwitz to understand the pain of their Jewish countrymen. In a suburb of Bethlehem, I know a Palestinian Christian, who, despite Palestinian persecution, teaches Palestinian children about love and forgiveness. I see these as examples of the Golden Rule being taught and practiced. This is what good men are doing today.
As a student I seize opportunities to combat hate by making others aware of the dangers of prejudice. A friend preparing a speech needed true facts about the need for a Jewish nation and I helped her. At school when we studied the Holocaust, I brought a video by a Dachau survivor. When we studied the Israeli/Palestinian conflict I shared a documentary by Jewish film maker, Pierre Rehov, showing Palestinian children being taught in school how to kill. Closer to home-when a school board member raised his fist in the air and screamed "Viva la raza!" -a slogan of the militant organization La Raza Unida meaning "Long live the race,"(Merritt) I recognized that as a warning sign to be heeded. I want to discern truth, then teach it to others. In public service I hope to share the lessons of the Holocaust with future generations. What else can I do? My faith teaches me to pray. Many survivors of the Holocaust said that prayer sustained them.(Chardkoff 230) We must not forget. We must not be silent, but speak out against greed and hatred. We must educate and be educated. We must also pray.
Pray that an event as terrible as the Holocaust will never happen again. Pray that innocent children will never again be taken from their mothers and executed.
Uziel, I will not forget. I will remember your face. I will not keep silent. One day I will teach my children not to forget, and I will pray.
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