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Recently, I made a visit that was specially arranged by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) to the Holocaust museum in Washington. It was my first visit to the Museum as I usually try to avoid coming face to face with the barbaric acts that humans commit against one another, and would rather just read the historical accounts. However, my friend Yigal Carmon, founder and president of MEMRI, convinced me of the importance of such a visit, since the Copts in Egypt are being subjected to a widespread culture of hatred similar to what the Jewish people had experienced in the past in Europe.
While the docents who accompanied me proceeded to explain about the different sections and paintings at the Museum, I let my imagination run free. I delved deeper into the events of the past, letting History itself and the victims speak to me, and in that process I reached a more profound and relevant understanding. I wondered: what could possibly make the Nazis exterminate about six million Jews in the most horrifying genocide in contemporary history? I could hear History answering me back: “Just one word, my friend: hatred.” The Supreme Court of Canada has recognized this truth, stating that “the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers, but with words.” As hatred gives birth to violence, in turn violence gives birth to crime; and the more vicious the hatred the more horrendous the crime.
I occasionally listened to the testimonies of Holocaust survivors that were broadcasted on screens found in the different levels of the museum. But History once more spoke and captivated my attention. “Come,” it insisted, “listen to the victims speak for themselves, those are the ones who can tell you about things that no one else had witnessed.” So I listened to Daniel, David, Jacob, Elijah, Moses, Cohen, Isaiah, Rachel, Deborah, Miriam, Hannah and Diana. They each told me about their last hours as they encountered a cruel and dreadful death. Some of them met death in labor camps, some in the overcrowded trains that were transporting them to places of execution, some in concentration camps, others in gas chambers, some were buried alive along with thousands of others in Jewish ghettos, while some were shot standing in line waiting to be killed — painful and horrifying stories that expose an appalling human brutality and ruthlessness. They spoke of the international community that failed them, neither offering protection nor refuge. They told me of the doors that were shut in their faces, irrevocably sealing their fate. They explained how they became the focus of a wave of hatred that infected Europe, spreading from one place to another like a deadly virus.
The one thing that gave me a measure of comfort after listening to the victims were Daniel’s words: “Write down what you hear from us so that humanity may avoid a repeat of that tragedy. We now dwell in a place of comfort and happiness, and the only reason we are telling you our story is to help mankind avoid similar disasters.” After being overwhelmed with grief at the atrocities that were revealed to me, I found real comfort in the fact that the victims of those atrocities had found happiness in the next life.
I came back to my own reality, and my own corner in the world in the Middle East, and I found the hatred against Jews had in fact changed places from Europe to the Middle East. In the Nazis’ era, the hatred against Jews was a state policy and a general culture. However, the hatred they face in the Middle East is much more dangerous, as it has morphed into some kind of human instinct and a religious culture. From a very young age, children are being fed hatred against Jews with their mother’s milk, inheriting it along with their genes. The sermons taught in mosques proclaim that the end of the world will not happen unless Muslims kill every single Jew, claiming that even the trees and rocks will call upon Muslims to kill the Jews taking shelter behind them. On the International al-Quds Day which was celebrated on August 17, 2012, Mr. Hassan Nasrallah brazenly stated that “our struggle with the Zionist enemy is a matter of religion and doctrine,” which suggests that Mr. Nasrallah and his Islamist friends see no other solution except the complete eradication of the Jewish people. The Jewish State is surrounded by hate from all corners, caught in between terrorist organizations and states like Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Sinai and soon Al-Qaida in al-Golan.
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