Governor-General Payette in Auschwitz to commemorate liberation of largest Nazi death camp – “Never again”

Canada’s Governor General Julie Payette visited the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp in Poland on the 75th anniversary of its liberation by Soviet forces. She also met with a small number of Holocaust survivors. The memory of the horrors of the Holocaust still haunts Jews around the world, including Canadian Jews. It also continues to fuel the idea of a “Jewish State” and its consequent dispossession and oppression of the Palestinians. “We are the victims of victims”, said Palestinian intellectual and author Edward Said. Read more….

“By drawing lessons from this horrific chapter in human history we can create a more just, equitable and inclusive future for all,” wrote Canada’s Governor General Julie Payette on her Facebook Page, just before leaving for Auschwicz, Poland.

auschwitz prisoners

75 years later, the images of starving prisoners still haunt us. And this is not the worst!!!

Few would disagree that such an inhuman and horrific event should never happen again to Jews. The Nazi intent, at least after 1941, was to completely wipe out an entire people.

The Governor-General’s message has a particular resonance in Canada which harbours the fourth largest Jewish population in the world (after Israel, the USA and France). Nearly 40,000 Holocaust survivors settled in the country after the Second World War. 

“Never again – to whom?”

According to the National Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., there were over 15 million deaths due to the Holocaust, of whom about 8 million were Russians, 6 million Jews and about 2 million Poles.  As Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel observed, “Not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims.”

“Never again” is narrowly interpreted by many Israeli leaders and advocates to mean “never again to Jews”. In a recent ceremony in Jerusalem, with many foreign leaders in attendance, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu skillfully used the memory of the Holocaust as a reason to defend the right of Jews to have their own state and, implicitly, to take over the land of Palestinians.

Of course it should never again happen to Jews. But it should also mean “never again to ANYONE” argues Dr. David Parnas in a powerful letter sent to CBC on the occasion of its Holocaust commemoration coverage. Parnas is a member of the OFIP Advisory Council. 

Unfortunately, CBC did not read his letter over the airwaves. Here is the text

To: Ottawa Ontario Today <>
Subject: Auschwitz matters but it is about all human beings, not one group of human beings.

Thank you for discussing Auschwitz and its lessons. 

I lost one grandmother in the Nazi death camps (not Auschwitz but does that matter?).  My other grandmother, the only one I ever knew, had her life destroyed in spite of surviving. Both were Jewish, as am I. Nonetheless, I think that Mr. Netanyahu  is wrong when he suggests that it “began with hatred of the Jews”  but right when he says that it does not end with the Jews. There were genocidal efforts before the Holocaust, many non-Jews were victims of the Holocaust and there are genocidal efforts today that are not directed at us Jews.

There are two roots to the disease one of whose symptoms are the Holocaust.  One is tribalism, the other is a corrupt exploitation of tribalism. Neither exclusively affects us Jews. Both are alive and well. 

The slogan that came out of the Holocaust, “Never again” is incomplete.  It should always be “Never again to anyone”.  Israeli politicians tend to treat it as “Never again to Jews” but that is counterproductive because some interpret it as meaning that it is OK to treat others the way we Jews were treated. 

We need to remember a simple truth: When we fight for our rights but neglect the rights of others, some of those others will oppose us; if we fight for the rights of everyone, everyone will join us and we will succeed.

Those who intone “Never again” in Jerusalem and refer exclusively to the suffering of their people need to realize that it is happening again and it is happening right there.  Every day, I hear of non-Jewish Palestinians being displaced to make room for Jews. This is tribalism, the same disease that led to the death of my grandmother in a death camp.  I think of those who piously intone “Never again” and shudder at how they are neglecting the tribalism that surrounds them. 

Thank you, David Parnas

Never again to anyone

The Holocaust was an unspeakably horrible act of genocide committed on an hitherto unimaginable scale by Nazi Germany. It should be remembered. It should never happen again. But the memory of the Holocaust should not be invoked selectively, nor should it be used to justify and defend the expulsion and oppression of a third group of people who had nothing to do with it. They have become the “victim of victims”.


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  1. What has happened 75 years ago should not have occurred. It was unfortunate act of manslaughter of many innocents’ lives. The question is who did it and why? One would thing that history should repeat itself but here it seems that corrupt political leaders have forced the history to go the wrong way. As a result, Palestinians became the victim of genocide for 70 years and continue to be as of today. One can understand retribution but it should not be the Palestinian women and children that pay the price for the crimes they never committed. I wonder if any lesson from this have been learned at all. They are murdering the innocent and wrong people.

    1. Muzzam, I don’t like quibbling over words but “manslaughter” is clearly the wrong word in this case. Manslaughter is “killing a human being without malice aforethought, or otherwise in circumstances not amounting to murder”. The killings in the Holocaust were meticulously planned and there was clearly expressed malice. It was murder.

      You are right that it was not the Palestinians. Some Zionists like to mention a meeting between a “Grand Mufti of Jerusalem: and Adolph Hitler in which they seemed to express support for each other. That was one Palestinian; He had been appointed to his post by the British. Those being maltreated today bear no responsibility.

  2. Listening to the words of Auschwitz survivors, I was struck by how often they remarked that outsiders knew what was happening but “nobody came”, i.e nobody tried to stop it. The same is true today. People outside of Palestine have known about the crimes being committed against Palestinians for more than 70 years but we do not try to stop it. Not only do they not object but our governments continue to support the perpetrators.

    1. If we follow your time frame, and why not, then England, the US, France and others who bent the facts to allow the “creation” of a nation called Israel still hold much responsibility for the subsequent abuse and suffering heaped upon the Palestinians for being born into and having an affinity for the “wrong” place.
      Having said that, yesterday’s announcement by Trump of a “really great deal” to “solve” the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, clearly does not count for anything but political posturing by a deluded fool who is only beginning to grasp his own troubled future.

      1. Allan, I agree with your points but it is worth noting that the actual text of the Balfour document that is so often cited as providing the basis for the creation of Israel does not actually do that. It uses the word “home” rather than “state” and explicitly says, “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. Sadly, Britain withdrew rather than carry that out.

        With regard to the Trump announcement, there are many obvious things wrong with its content but the most basic problem is that the US does not have any right to give Israel or the Palestinians “permission” to do anything. Trump announcements are not international law.

  3. Avraham Burg (former chairman of the Jewish Agency and Speaker of the Knesset) explores underlying issues at length in his 2009 book “The Holocaust Is Over We Must Rise From its Ashes”. One reviewer summarized Burg’s main argument as “Israeli leaders use the memory of the Holocaust in ways that are warping the country’s soul, creating unnecessary fear, and making it impossible to achieve peace with the Palestinians.” Well worth reading for more insight.

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