Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on 27 January each year. It’s a time for everyone to pause to remember the millions of people who have been murdered or whose lives have been changed beyond recognition during the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. On HMD we can honour the survivors of these regimes and challenge ourselves to use the lessons of their experience to inform our lives today. 27 January marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.
HMD is a time when we seek to learn the lessons of the past and to recognise that genocide does not just take place on its own, it’s a steady process which can begin if discrimination, racism and hatred are not checked and prevented. We’re fortunate here in the UK; we are not at risk of genocide. However, discrimination has not ended, nor has the use of the language of hatred or exclusion.* There is still much to do to create a safer future and HMD is an opportunity to start this process.
The aims of HMD are laid out in the statement of commitment. HMD activity organisers bring together the diverse strands of their communities to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day in their neighbourhoods. This is a real demonstration of how the lessons of the past can inform our lives today and ensure that everyone works together to create a safer, better future.
Just in time for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Iranian government has announced that it will be holding another “Holocaust Cartoons Contest,” in which the cartoonist who most viciously mocks the Nazi genocide will be awarded $50,000. It may be tempting to dismiss such Iranian mischief as harmless foolishness, but Tehran’s hateful contest reminds us that political cartoons increasingly are recognized as powerful instruments of influence.
Many would say that this kind of cartoon should be banned, but on the contrary, I would advocate the freedom to be offensive because the negative impact upon the perpetraters outweighs any benefits. If Iran wants to be taken seriously on the international political stage then it needs to come to term with historical fact. Denying that the holocaust ever happened, and indeed ridiculing it, shows how far the Iranians have got to travel to really join us in the 21st century.
But lets be frank, acceptance of the holocaust would require Iran to drop its anti-semitic stance towards Israel and recognise that the Jews have a right to exist in a country of their own.
Source Ref: Daily Beast/WorldAtlasofFlags/BBC/USHMM