From Bill Sutter’s Desk May/Jun 2006
Tears welled up in our eyes as Holocaust survivor Gerda Klein described the devastation of her “tsunami.” In a subdued voice, she recounted, “Ours was a wave of hatred that swept away the lives of my family.”
The occasion of her presentation was the first International Holocaust Remembrance Day held recently in a crowded UN General Assembly Hall exactly 61 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, one of Adolf Hitler’s most infamous extermination camps. The event was a long overdue acknowledgement by the United Nations, itself founded in the aftermath of the Holocaust.
Following six horrific years in Nazi captivity, Gerda, weighing a skeletal 68 pounds, was liberated by American forces the day before her 21st birthday. In a weakened voice, she told her attending American soldier, “I am Jewish, you know.” After a pause he replied, “So am I.” As we sat motionless, Mrs. Klein continued: “This beloved, young, handsome officer became my husband.”
The weeks leading up to the UN event saw Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad call for Israel’s destruction and Hamas terrorists win the Palestinian legislative elections. Hamas is committed to replacing Israel with an Islamic, Palestinian state.
In this context, a delegation from The Friends of Israel journeyed to New York City, along with friends from our South Jersey Jewish community, to remember the victims of the Holocaust and its survivors. Wrote Chanan Tigay, reporting for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
“For us survivors, this commemoration under U.N. auspices is a muted triumph,” said Roman Kent, chairman of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors.
“It is imperfect justice, for it took 60 years for the crimes committed during the Holocaust to be properly acknowledged by the United Nations.”
A rousing presentation by Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, challenged everyone to remember the sacrifice of the victims and honor the lives of the survivors. In tones of grief, he urged, “Just imagine the shattering of skulls, the burning of flesh, and the cries of children.”
With obvious reference to Iran, Gillerman regretted the reality of a world in which a UN member would claim the Holocaust did not happen and would call for Israel’s destruction and prepare for the next Holocaust. He brought the crowd to its feet by noting Israel’s vital role in responding to the bigots of the world and by declaring, “There forever will be an Israel!”
The moderator, UN Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Shashi Tharoor, commented on the day’s theme, “Remembrance and Beyond.” “To remember is not enough,” he said. “You must foster respect toward all human beings.” Secretary-General Kofi Annan appeared via a video message: “Remembering is a necessity to those bigots who deny or understate the Holocaust. It falls to us to carry the torch of remembrance.”
Representing the General Assembly, Ambassa -dor Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg, acting president of the 16th session, called on the world to honor Holocaust survivors, adding, “It’s a tragedy that the international community hasn’t been able to stop causes of the Holocaust.”
Providing additional impact to the two-hour ceremony were visual images showing Holocaust victims of all ages, accompanied by summary descriptions of their lives. We also heard a stirring performance by the Zamir Chorale of Boston, featuring music of victims of the Holocaust—songs they actually sang among themselves in the camps.
Another highlight of the gathering was a presentation by Professor Yehuda Bauer, academic advisor to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. He argued that Nazism was perpetrated by secularized, radicalized intellectuals who were not only anti-Jewish but also anti-Christian, because Christianity’s roots are in Judaism. He explained that the Holocaust represented the depths of human depravity, with Auschwitz the ultimate symbol of evil. The world, he said, still has not learned the lessons of anti-Semitism because the same dangerous elements are rising again in radical Islam.
We at The Friends of Israel are not naïve when it comes to understanding the UN’s fundamental character. Its godlessness and accompanying anti-Semitic infrastructure are grossly offensive to the Lord. As Bible-believing Christians, we are reminded of the truth of Isaiah 40:17: “All nations before Him are as nothing, and they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless.”
For timely information on the UN’s anti-Semitic bent and its anti-Israel machinery, I refer you to an excellent Web site, www.eyeontheun.org.
Strikingly absent from the daylong event that drew 2,000 people was any significant representation from the UN’s 191 member states. Consequently, it became even more important for us as Christians to share the occasion with our Jewish friends.
I encourage you also, as a Christian friend of the Jewish people and supporter of Israel, to take advantage of similar opportunities in your community. You will be warmly welcomed!