Forty survivors of the Nazi’s horrific Holocaust and current volunteers at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC are coping with painful memories produced by the recent, deadly terrorist attack by Hamas.
They deserve empathy. Better than most, they understand death delivered by people who thrive on hatred and destruction of Jews.
Imagine being a survivor of Adolf Hitler’s systematic purge of Jews in Germany, Austria, France, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. The horror of being hunted never vanishes. The knowledge that your religion marks you as disposable is unbearable.
Imagine losing your parents, siblings and close family members to the Nazi’s gas chambers and your childhood community to massive elimination.
And, then, these memory-wracked senior citizens must watch scenes of the gruesome killing of children, hostages and concert-goers by inhuman Hamas terrorists. The Holocaust survivors promised their family members they would not forget the horror committed by evil forces.
These survivors must now seek to understand the continuation of extermination by people unconcerned by the loss of lives of Gaza residents unaffiliated with Hamas. Israel has declared its intention to wipe out the Hamas leaders and their disciples.
Israel must decide its means of unearthing Hamas forces from underground tunnels and other hideaways. It will be relentless. It will be ruthless in saving the Jewish state.
I feel for the Holocaust survivors. Maybe they knew instinctively that crimes against humanity would never cease, that antisemitism is endemic to mankind. They are hardened against mass murder and ethnic cleansing.
Yet, they too harbor innate optimism that peace and compassion are not worthless concepts, empty words in describing possible human behavior. They are immutable goals in a world that functions best when hatred is subordinate to harmony, if not love.
I bemoan leaders who seek to sow the seeds of discord. I cringe at the depiction of killing for the sake of instilling fear and perpetuating inhuman behavior.
Antisemitism is a rabid disease that often comes in waves. Unfortunately it is latent, difficult, if not
impossible to eradicate. It is a shameful blight on the human condition.
It disappears with tolerance. An unattainable goal for those unalterably determined to destroy Jews and Israel.
Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. After 44 years in Easton, Howard and his wife, Liz, moved in November 2020 to Annapolis, where they live with Toby, a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel who has no regal bearing, just a mellow, enticing disposition.