A 2nd Holocaust?

I sat down to write this the morning after news broke about what was discovered by Israeli soldiers at Kibbutz Kfar Aza, which is in the south of Israel near the border with Gaza. In addition to the almost total destruction of the kibbutz and the murder of many of the kibbutzniks, a number of babies were found – not just dead, but decapitated.

The horror of this news brought into focus a thought I had had hovering in my mind for a few days beforehand, a thought I didn’t want to acknowledge. The thought: Could the Hamas invasion of Israel be an attempt at yet another genocide against the Jews? The second within less than 100 years?

When combatants slaughter people in the way that Hamas has done – and more particularly when they do such unspeakable things to large numbers of small children and babies, defenceless individuals who have no understanding of the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, I cannot help but wonder if this is not an attempt at a genocide. When you eradicate a cohort of people who would potentially become the next generation of adults that you hate, is that not an attempt to clear the world of
this generation? 

And the fact that the slaughter was done in such a horrific way brings huge parallels with how those uber perpetrators of genocide, the Nazis, eliminated the lives of babies: they smashed their heads against walls. Now, their followers, Hamas, are also killing by destroying people’s heads.

This news has made me think about my late father, who passed away over 30 years ago, at a time when I was just entering adulthood. I have so often wished that he was still with us, so that I could discuss things with him, understand his opinions on various issues, and enjoy the pleasures of life with him. 

But, now, I am relieved that he is not with us anymore. He was a Holocaust survivor, and I can only imagine that, were he to have been alive now to witness what Hamas has done, the similarities with what he saw and experienced in the 1940s would have killed him just as certainly as the heart attack that felled him all those years ago did. And it would have killed my sister and me, too, to witness the anguish he would have gone through on hearing about what is starting to look like yet another genocide against our people.

The various articles we publish this month are, as you would expect, dominated by the tragic events of 7 October. You will see the powerful commentary by the Chairperson of the Cape SAJBD at the solidarity event organised by a number of our organisations, including the SAZF Cape Council. Both of our regular columnists, Julian Resnick and Craig Nudelman, offer reflections on the unimaginable events in Israel, as does the Rabbi’s column on the Temple Israel page. See also the strong message from Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein.

We trust that you will find things to read that provide meaning and guidance to you during these extremely difficult times.

POSTSCRIPT: We have started using the Cape Jewish Chronicle’s website (www.cjc.org.za) to post news that we believe will be of interest to members of the Jewish community. Please visit the site to read about support for Israel from a wide range of people, as well as to find useful contact details should you need assistance or wish to report something of concern.

• Published in the November 2023 issue – Click here to start reading.

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