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Yad Vashem Chairman | From Auschwitz and Berlin to Be’eri and Columbia University

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(A7) On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan, speaks to Israel National News – Arutz Sheva about the Hamas massacre on October 7th, the Holocaust, the similarities and differences between the two, and antisemitism today around the world.

Dani Dayan, agrees that there is a definite comparison between the Holocaust and the massacre of October 7th: “There is no doubt that it’s felt by everyone, but one of the first lessons I was taught by the historians at Yad Vashem is that you can compare a pair of events with one condition; if you define the similarities, must also define the differences. There are similarities – the cruelty, the sadism, the intention to kill us all, but there are also a lot of differences that I think are much more powerful. The members of the first response teams, the volunteers, the first responders, the soldiers, and the policemen that fought in Be’eri and Sderot and Nir Oz, had the same heroism as Mordechai Anielewicz and Pavel Frankl in the Warsaw Ghetto, but there was a completely different purpose. Anilevitz and Frankl fought in order to die with dignity. They fought in southern Israel in order to save lives, expel the enemy, and exert a toll on the perpetrators, and indeed they did.

Dayan continued, “We have an independent state today. The IDF eventually arrived and the differences are much more powerful than the similarities.”

Dayan believes that the responses to the October 7th attack were very individual, and the pictures from the south could trigger responses from some people. “I think that the most powerful effect will be on Monday morning when the sirens sound all across Israel and each Israeli will stand still in silence with himself or herself, and his or her thoughts. We have a diverse society, and I am sure that there will be different thoughts and different personal responses to each one of us on the linkage and the effect of October 7th on the Holocaust memories”

 

Over the past seven months, the world has seen a resurrection of antisemitism around the world; not just the stats, but the story is right here in front of our eyes.

Dayan believes that there is, “There is no doubt that the resurgence of antisemitism is horrendous. We see it, especially in the US campuses, in the Ivy League universities, which I know intimately, and I told the presidents of the universities that I met recently, as well as in letters I wrote to them, that this is a cancerous process and I’m not saying that easily. If they let this process reach the final stage, the terminal stage of cancer, it will be destructive mainly for the universities.

Dayan continued: “There is this romantic idea that causes advanced by students and faculty academics are always good causes, sometimes ahead of their time, but good causes. Nothing is further from the truth. The thugs that burnt Jewish books in front of the Universitätsplatz in Heidelberg, were the students and professors of that University. So, I think that the leadership of those universities has to make a moral decision, not an administrative decision; police, not police, online study classes, not online classes. A moral decision that calls for the idea of eliminating the existence of the state of Israel is illegitimate in the discourse, like racism and homophobia and misogamy, that everyone agrees are outside the legitimate discourse, so also the elimination of the Jewish State should be in that category. The moment if and when they make that decision, then we will start the process of really healing those institutions.”

Dayan concludes, “We have to hope that it’s not too late and we have not only to hope, but we have to work hard in order to make it happen, to exert pressure and influence, in order to make that happen.

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