Two Diametrically Opposed Responses to the Holocaust and “Never Again”



The persecution of the Jews by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany in the years 1933-1945 resulted in the murder of six million Jewish people, along with other ethnic and sexual minorities. This is the Holocaust.

There have been two basic approaches to the lessons of the Holocaust, as Bob Avakian pointed out in his dialogue with Cornel West (“Bob Avakian on Revenge vs. the Emancipation of ALL Humanity”). Both use the phrase “never again.” One way is to say “never again will my people be victimized, and anything we do to anyone else to prevent that is justified.” This has been used by the state of Israel and its backers to justify the decades of genocidal terror and murder and cruel dispossession against millions of oppressed Palestinians.

Then there are those who said, “never again should such horrors happen to anyone—never again should crimes against humanity be allowed to go on while people plead ignorance or impotence as an excuse to do nothing to stop those crimes.” Among those expressing this most compellingly have been Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors of the Holocaust, speaking out in opposition to the crimes of the state of Israel. The following are some of those voices:

A Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, living in Israel, who went on a hunger strike to protest Israel’s 1982 bombing of Beirut, Lebanon1:

In my childhood I have suffered fear, hunger and humiliation when I passed from the Warsaw Ghetto, through labor camps, to Buchenwald [a Nazi concentration camp]. Today, as a citizen of Israel, I cannot accept the systematic destruction of cities, towns, and refugee camps. I cannot accept the technocratic cruelty of the bombing, destroying and killing of human beings.... Too many things in Israel remind me of too many things from my childhood.

From an article by a Canadian author who lived through the Nazi genocide as a child in Hungary2:

[W]hat shall we do, we ordinary people? I pray we can listen to our hearts. My heart tells me that “never again” is not a tribal slogan, that the murder of my grandparents in Auschwitz does not justify the ongoing dispossession of Palestinians, that justice, truth, peace are not tribal prerogatives.

From a 2014 statement by 327 survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of Nazi genocide, against massacre of Palestinians in Gaza3:

As Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors and victims of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine. We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation. Genocide begins with the silence of the world....

We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!


1. Dr. Shlomo Shmelzman, cited in Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel and the Palestinians by Noam Chomsky, 1999, South End Press.  [back]

2. “Beautiful dream of Israel has become a nightmare,” Gabor Maté, Toronto Star, July 22, 2014.  [back]

3. See “Jewish survivors and descendants of survivors of Nazi genocide unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza.”  [back]




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