A Social Media Response To Those Who Presume Nefarious Intent from Donald Trump’s Omission of Jewish Recognition on Holocaust Remembrance Day: A Debate on Perception and Reality

By Ezri Silver, February 3rd 2017

Earlier in the week I took a stand on social media perception and learned the lack of open interpretation which permeates our discourse.

In response to the Presidents statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day:

I agree with the generalities of the President’s statement regarding the Holocaust.

If all we learned from the Holocaust was not to exterminate Jewish people and not human beings in general — then we are truly lost in the nuances of the victim mentality.

As an identified member of humanity and Judaism — who lost over 90% of my extended family to the Holocaust — the tragedies of the genocides perpetuated prior: such as the Armenian and Ukrainian genocides, as well as the mass exterminations of Mao Zedong (killed approximately 45 million people in 4 years), Stalin, more recently Bosnia & Syria, along with the told and untold carnage on the African continent among others — then we — as human beings — truly have not learned our lesson.

(New York, Facebook) — To My Fellow Jewish People;

I see you have taken the time and care to respond in detail and this is a discourse I can appreciate.

In terms of my seemingly conflating of points, it is relative to how the action is interpreted as well as the intent. Prior precedent withstanding as the status quo of recognition misses the point with regards to how it is received by the greater world and those not directly affected by the Holocaust through distinct affiliation with the parties which fell victim to the Holocaust.

Regarding the point of the diversity of those affected by the Holocaust, I am happy you recognized an area of agreement and did not write off the entirety of the post. Debate is the hallmark of Judaism and Democracy. Engaging all Americans — no matter how reprehensible they or their actions are, is fundamental to the American belief in opportunity for a better future, liberty to be responsible for the day to day living of self and those who you are responsible for, and the pursuit of that which makes you and those around you happy. We also believe in rehabilitation in spirit (though poorly implemented), the fundamental good intentions of all human beings (though based on education and culture, the more myopic the less intention is shared), and the potential of humanity to unify through mutual respect (though respect is not always shared). Most importantly — and something our government has eroded fundamentally but not yet completely lost — is the ability to agree to disagree and then compromise for the good of the nation for which they serve (though a politician who truly acts with the benevolence of a servant of the state with humility, is still something I have yet to see in a majority form).

The identity of the Holocaust is forever coupled with Eastern European Jewry and Jewry in general based on the sheer scale and disproportionate concentration towards followers of Judaism. Yet the macro message which permeates throughout humanity and carries the most personalization is the fundamental humanity of every single human being that perished in the Holocaust and then specifically the oppression and targeting of not only ethnic, cultural, geographic, and racial groups — but religious groups as well in the form of the carnage passed on the Jewish people in particular. The message is brutally carried over to religion in our times due to the lack of carrying on of the messages of prior ethno-religious campaigns such as The Crusades (11th to end of the 13th century); The Spanish Inquisition (14th & 15th Century); and The Thirty Year War (1618 — 1648) — each of which broadly targeted non-believers of another religion or religious sects within the general grouping of a particular theology.

Regarding Trump’s message, lets put it up here to read again. The following is/was Trump’s statement:

“It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.

“Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest.‎ As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.

“In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.”

The final sentence is simple enough if you read only in the context of the present-tense: “Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.” This in and of itself is a statement universalizing the lessons of the Holocaust. Regardless of precedent by prior presidents, the comparison of statements is foolhardy as an indicator of on-going policy or dramatic position shift other than changing a simple statement.

Similarly, it is wrong-headed, simple-minded, and presumptuous to make overt and perverse interpretations from what is not said and rather consider the explanation rather than react in comparison of the current statement to preceding statements. Does the omission give context to ignore the facts that indifference to prejudice which induces hatred of one ethnicity, race, or religious group will lead to mass murder if not addressed…? Nowhere does this statement imply otherwise.

If anything was missing, it was the sheer number of deaths. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website, “…the current best estimates of civilians and disarmed soldiers killed by the Nazi regime and its collaborators,” was almost 19,000,000 people (see https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10008193 ). Yes, the Jewish people were the largest group mass exterminated (the next two being non-Jewish Soviet Citizens making up 4.7 million more and Soviet Prisoners of War being approximately 3 million souls.) Yet, let that sink in for a moment — nineteen million human beings exterminated.

Without a doubt, I agree with you that the intent of extermination of a belief, a practice, of a religion was primary to the Nazi agenda but the utter similarity we have to another person is not what we believe in but what we each are — human beings. You may see it as misrepresentation as much as I see your particular statement as misrepresentation and as corrupt an interpretation of an individual who is rightfully fearful and uncertain of an administration the likes of which none of us has ever seen. Yet the one issue missing is the lack of discourse and communication to bridge the gaps of prejudice, hatred, and corruption. Demonizing does not work in preventing change, nor does hysteria, or conversely indifference — but to not allow a statement to be reformatted to express the singularity of a human tragedy in our own fear of it being an absolute return to the demons of the past: this I cannot conclude nor make. Too many people have been marginalized beyond our own religious borders that do not understand what hate leads to. Too many people have been under educated, under employed, and generally under valued and in their blind and desperate attempt may have latched onto what this interpretation implies — the imploding of our country and possibly world. Do I see this extreme as a remote possibility? Yes. Do I believe that the interpretations and responses I see here are grounded in well-documented historical observations which could be interpreted as the remanifestation of such? Absolutely. Do I interpret what is happening as being the only path we are traveling? Emphatically — at this point in time — no I do not.

To imply that the statement we are discussing mourned the death of Nazi’s or has any parallel to the other nonsensical examples I have heard over the course of the past week, I cite the first paragraph of the statement in question:

“It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.

To ignore the statement itself for what it is and interpret to this extreme is most certainly abhorrent, egregious, shocking, and atrocious.

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