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OPINION - Antisemitic, nasty and hypocritical: this is the world on Holocaust Memorial Day in 2024

Holocaust Memorial Day is on Saturday January 27 (Ian West/PA) (PA Wire)
Holocaust Memorial Day is on Saturday January 27 (Ian West/PA) (PA Wire)

Holocaust Memorial Day is 24 hours of shame, but not in the way you think. It was designed to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust, and it falls on the day that Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by Soviet forces: January 27, in 1945. This is tragedy enough for the Jewish people, you might think, but HMD — I don’t mind giving it an acronym, it deserves one — has changed. It is now an annual festival for the abuse of living Jewish people and the denial of our loss, and we brace ourselves for the memory of the past, and the cruelty of the present. This was the worst year yet.

When antisemitism began to return to the mainstream about 15 years ago, I wrote: saying you will never again burn Jews because you have burned so many Jews is pretty much the stupidest thing I have ever heard. It was glib but accurate: there is no reason why the world should change. Nazism was defeated, it is true, but not for the Jews’ sake, far from it: when Hitler offered German Jewry to the world at the Evian Conference in 1938 the world didn’t want them, and it left them to die.

The conspiracy theories — at heart, antisemitism is a conspiracy for fools who don’t understand the world, which is why far Leftists exult in it — are still with us. So is the mistrust, the sense of something alien to fear, the idea of the Jew as demonic. Read a book, I say, if you want to understand us, but it is always the wrong book. Or no book. Antisemitism is not a thought process but a passion, and that is no friend to words.

On Saturday people marked Holocaust Memorial Day without mentioning Jews at all — it was cruel and foolish

On Saturday people marked HMD without mentioning Jews at all, preferring to talk about non-specific genocides: the Secretary-General of the United Nations, for instance, who should know better, but doesn’t, and the Scottish First Minister. This is cruel, and foolish too: all victims of genocides deserve specificity. Without specificity what can we learn?

But HMD is, rather, now an annual unlearning, and day of self-congratulation and denial. Or they signed remembrance books and posted photographs of themselves doing it online: the Labour MP Kate Osamor, for instance, who took the opportunity to compare the Holocaust to Gaza and was suspended from the parliamentary party for it, as she should be. The fate of the stationery is unknown.

Slurs rang out like bells. They gathered under the posts of politicians: read the comments under Sir Keir Starmer’s sensitive posts, for example, or Jeremy Corbyn’s. He never misses an event for HMD, like a man returning to the scene of a crime. (I behaved little better. I posted a vomiting emoji under it. I will do this every year until one of us dies). The rebuke is: there is genocide in Gaza, and Jews are Nazis.

It’s an irresistible narrative arc, apparently: the original victims of genocide are genocidaires now. It’s philosophy for the Mr Men, yes, but also a valuable emotional imperative for non-Jews: if Jews are demonic beings, there is nothing to fear from their mass murder, and collaboration in that mass murder was, if not desirable, then understandable. That is the new message of HMD: the Jews deserved it, and Gaza is the proof.

Margot Robbie (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Margot Robbie (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Barbie girls should stop whingeing

Luxury feminists whinge that Margot Robbie, who played Barbie in Barbie, wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award for best actress, as if this is a cutting-edge feminist cause. It isn’t. It’s yet another instance of privileged women taking all the space for themselves and insinuating that the loss of a tinny statue is comparable to the sufferings of common women, or at least a glittering paradigm of them.

Robbie, who specialises in playing dolls — look at her turn in One Upon a Time … In Hollywood — should complain to the ghosts of Bette Davis and Gloria Swanson, who were both denied the award, for All About Eve and Sunset Boulevard respectively, in 1951, the year I lost all faith in the Academy, and I wasn’t even born.

If Davis and Swanson were here, I think they’d say to Robbie — want better accolades? Take better parts.

Tanya Gold is a columnist