Remembering today's Holocaust

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, the day chosen to memorialize the innocent millions slaughtered by the Nazis in the dark days of the ‘30s and ‘40s.

Millions were shot, starved and gassed while the world stood by and didn’t respond until it was too late.

Holocaust Memorial
Holocaust Memorial.

While it was unspooling in Germany in the ‘30s, the United States was guilty of not taking direct action, which perhaps it couldn’t, but even failed to take indirect action, by admitting Jewish refugees. It was a great moral failing.

One example was the SS St. Louis, filled with refugees, turned back to Europe and certain doom.

It was a shameful time for Europe, for America, and for the rest of the world.

A guilty world echoed the cries of the Jewish world of “Never again.”

Unfortunately, it has happened again — Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and other places — and it is happening today, in Iraq and Syria.

None of us are responsible for what happened before we were born.

We are responsible for what happens today, and there is a genocide taking place in Iraq and Syria, directed at Christians by Muslims — radical extremist Muslims, or if you prefer, ISIS (and other) terrorists. It doesn’t matter what they are called. What matters is what they are doing and it is happening again, and the world, and America, is shuffling around with an inadequate response.

The persecution and slaughter of various Christian sects has been widely reported and is indisputable. We all know it.

So what can we do?

One thing is to support, and urge Congress to take up and act on, H.R. 1568, introduced on March 24 by California Rep Juan Vargas. It is titled the “Protecting Religious Minorities Persecuted by ISIS Act.”

Helping push the bill is Mark Arabo, a Christian whose family fled Iraq in 1979, and who has since become a successful businessman in San Diego, but a man who has not forgotten where he came from.

The national spokesman for the Iraqi Christian community, he’s been in Washington for four days, telling members of Congress if they don’t support the bill, “you are sentencing my people to death.”

The bill requires expedited processing (but with security screening kept in mind) for those who have been persecuted or have a real fear of persecution from ISIS. That would include all Christians in the area, some 160,000 of them.

Arabo says he is making the appeal for rescue not just to America, but also to other Western nations.

“For  every single refugee we have a commitment from an American-born citizen as sponsor,” he says, who would assume responsibility for them.

For me, as a Jew and descendant of those who died, I have a special repugnance toward genocide, but I hope not a unique responsibility to protest against it ever happening again, to anyone.

If you feel as I do, let your congressional rep know.

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