BBC – The Big Questions

Jewish Light Editorial

Two prominent British voices weighed in last month on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

One, the highly regarded Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, poignantly reminded us of the crucial importance of Holocaust remembrance, especially in the context of recent hatred toward Jews.

The other, the BBC, rather resembled a fool, embarrassing itself and grossly disappointing all who believe we are destined to repeat history if we choose to forget its lessons.

Jan. 27 marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation, by the Soviet Red Army, of Auschwitz, the most infamous of the Nazi death camps. More than 2 million people, including more than 1.1 million Jews, 100,000 prisoners of war and several hundred thousand Romani (Gypsies) were exterminated at Auschwitz-Birkenau in the greatest mass murder in human history.

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Some 300 Auschwitz survivors, many of them frail and all of them in their 80s, attended the solemn service of remembrance last

week at the site of the death camp.  Representatives of nearly 50 countries sent delegates to Auschwitz for the event.

The sage wisdom of Sacks, Emeritus Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth, shone through in a Wall Street Journal commentary last weekend, reflecting on recent events.

“The murder of Jewish shoppers at a Parisian kosher supermarket three weeks ago, after the killing of 12 people at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, sent shivers down the spines of many Jews, not because it was the first such event, but because it has become part of a pattern,” writes Sacks. “In 2014, four were

killed at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.  In 2012, a rabbi and three young children were murdered at a Jewish school in Toulouse.  In 2008 in Mumbai, four terrorists separated themselves from a larger group killing people in the city’s cafes and hotels and made their way to a small Orthodox Jewish center, where they murdered its young rabbi and his pregnant wife after torturing and mutilating them.”  

Sacks, noting these acts as evidence that “(a)n ancient hatred has been reborn,” goes on to cite grim statistics from the Anti-Defamation League study released last May that found “persistent and pervasive” hatred toward Jews. So dire has the situation become in France that some 7,000 French Jews made aliyah to Israel last year, and that number is expected to double this year.  It is not inaccurate to say that French Jewry is less secure now than it has been since the Nazi occupation of Vichy France during World War II, when some 75,000 French Jews were deported to the death camps.

Notwithstanding the present-day evidence of renewed hatred toward Jews across the globe, the BBC chose to ask one of its “big questions” on the network’s Twitter forum that read:

“Is the time coming to lay the Holocaust to rest?”

The ignorance associated with such a query is beyond anything we’d expect from a major communications outlet. While anyone is free to ask any question anytime, to suggest this particular one is up for “reasonable” debate shows the perilously weak grasp of the BBC on matters of major significance, not only to Jews but the world in general.

This is hardly the first time that the BBC has demonstrated a gross lack of understanding and appreciation for Jews or Israel. Its coverage of Middle Eastern affairs has been roundly condemned for its deliberate slant against the Jewish State and toward the Palestinian political narrative.

But the suggestion that we might collectively forget the systematic elimination of peoples, Jewish or otherwise, shows that the BBC, purportedly a bastion of journalistic competence, has enabled editors and writers who fail to grasp history and believe it’s fair to even consider letting it drift off into the sunset.

Justin Amler, on the “Energy of Thought” blog on the Jerusalem Post website (jpost.com), explains succinctly what we owe our ancestors, our history and the world in forever honoring the memory of those we lost:

“There will always be those that deny the Holocaust happened, or would prefer to place it on a dusty shelf of a library that no one visits. And as inconvenient as it might be to the BBC’s sensitivities and the BBC’s ‘narrative’, I know that it’s my responsibility to make sure that horrific period in both our Jewish history and the world’s history is always known.

“Twitter may limit you to 140 characters, but in BBC’s insensitive and callous tweet, they have said a whole lot more.”

We couldn’t say it better ourselves.