READERS WRITE: The Rise of Anti-Semitism

READERS WRITE:  The Rise of Anti-Semitism

Imagine telling someone about the repulsive events of the Holocaust. And then they don’t believe any of it, not even one word. If the Holocaust never happened, does that mean thousands of people have made up horrendous stories? Does that mean people built concentration camps just to create a fake story? What about all of the pictures? Did people hire a bunch of actors to take horrible pictures of a “fake” war? What about my own family: my great-grandparents had siblings and parents whom the Nazis slaughtered. Does that mean they made that up, too? 

In today’s society, acts of racism and anti-Semitism are constantly in the news. Almost a quarter of young Americans believe that the Holocaust is fake, and according to a recent survey, 23% think the Holocaust is a myth, and 12% say they have never heard the word Holocaust before. While on a recent class trip to the Holocaust Museum and Center for Tolerance Education at Rockland Community College, I was shocked to see pictures of people wearing T-shirts reading Camp Auschwitz and 6MWE (which stands for 6 million was not enough), implying that more Jews should have been killed. That t-shirt is just the tip of the iceberg.  

Anti-Semitism has been on the rise in recent years. The infamous Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, which resulted in the death of eleven people, shocked most Americans in 2018. Most recently, famous celebrities, such as Kanye West and Kyrie Irving, openly questioned the Jewish experience.

One of the reasons the Nazis were able to commit their atrocities was the bystander effect, which is when people just stand by and don’t take action in times of trouble or crisis. This is what happened in Nazi Germany. 

We cannot let it happen again. We should speak up when we see someone getting bullied or something terrible happening to another person. When we witness acts of anti-Semitism, such as recent synagogues that were broken into, Jewish gravestones that were vandalized, or hate speech online, we must take a stand.

A famous philosopher George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This concept plays a uniquely vital role in my generation. We are the last generation with first-hand access to the living witnesses of the Holocaust, and the numbers are dwindling each year. My generation has a burden to tell the stories of the Holocaust to the generations after us so that such open and deliberate acts of anti-Semitism do not get repeated.

ASHAR, my elementary school, participates annually in a program called Names, Not Numbers. Members of the senior class interview Holocaust survivors and get the chance to ask them questions about what they experienced. We turn these interviews into a documentary, preserving survivor testimonies for future generations. It is more important now than ever that we educate others about past atrocities to ensure they never repeat in the future.

Mimi Yaniv

ASHAR -8th grader

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