We can teach our children to love

The Cape Town Holocaust & Genocide Centre hosted a documentary movie screening, Blind Love, a few weeks ago. In the movie — which focuses on the March of the Living event at Auschwitz — a Holocaust survivor who shares his experiences of Auschwitz with some of the participants, commented on something that I’ve been mulling over since I saw the movie. He made the point that, for him, dogs and Auschwitz are synonymous with fear and death. Dogs were used by the Nazis at the camp — and elsewhere throughout Europe, too — to terrorise subjugated people, such as the Jewish prisoners. Often, the dogs were used to attack people and they killed many of the prisoners. So, for the elderly survivor, dogs were creatures to be feared.

Having accompanied the particular group of participants in the March of the Living — blind people and their support dogs — he discovered that dogs can be completely different. He experienced dogs that are loving and caring, providing much-needed support for the people they look after.

In commenting on what he learned from the experience, the elderly survivor said, “You can teach a dog to hate — like the Nazis did — but you can also teach it to love.” 

I think this is the same with people. It’s especially important right now, as we are dealing with the hatred we see around us throughout the world since the events of October 7th. The polarisation of those who believe in Israel’s right to exist and the haters has grown a great deal, and we are seeing the ugly face of hatred far more than we did a year ago.

Should we all just become haters too? I certainly don’t think so because we can never hope to coexist with other people if the hatred overwhelms us. 

The things we tell our children to do and the things we say in front of them shape their attitudes towards others. So, we need to be conscious of our actions and our words. Within our own community and families, we should show our children how to love others, rather than to hate. Perhaps this example of a post on social media sums it up:
Seeing a little girl, about eight years old holding a placard saying, ‘One Zionist One Bullet’ outside the Aliyah Expo was disturbing. It inculcates hatred for Jews in children.

So, let’s teach our children (and our dogs!) to love, rather than to hate!

We have another article in this edition about the movie I referred to earlier. It is about the benefits that suitably trained dogs can bring to people with autism. Take a look at the article on page 11 (and here).

Autism seems to be on the rise — although it may be that diagnostic tools are improving. Similarly, we come across more cases of lupus (autoimmune conditions) than used to be the case. Drawing attention to the disease, World Lupus Day is held this month. Medical expert, Dr David Gotlieb, shares useful information about the condition on page 23 and 24 (and here).

With the national elections soon to take place, we’re happy to share news about a legal challenge launched by the Democratic Alliance (DA) against the Independent Electoral Commission. Not long before we started finalising this edition, news came through that the challenge was successful — great news for the legal team, which included two advocates from our community. See page 6 (and here).

• Published in the May 2024 issue – Click here to start reading.

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