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Stepping into Holocaust history: Connecting 1933 and 2023

Israeli soldiers visiting the Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem on May 2, 2024, ahead of Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Day. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

On March 22, 1933, the Nazis admitted prisoners to Dachau, the first concentration camp where they began to imprison Germans whom they deemed a political, social, or cultural threat to their unholy government. Ninety years later, on October 7, 2023, Hamas invaded the Jewish homeland in an attempt to repeat a holocaust. Echoes of World War II arose amid terrorists’ frenzied shouts and Israelis’ anguished screams, with 1,200 murdered, hostages kidnapped, and thousands wounded.

At Israel’s national Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony on May 5, Prime Minister Netanyahu declared, “The terrorist attack on October 7 was not a holocaust—not because of the lack of intention to destroy us, but because of the lack of the ability to destroy us.” In God’s fulfillment of promises, Israel became a modern state in 1948 and with it gained the ability to defend itself.

During World War II, reports from Europe about Nazi mass arrests, industrialized murders, and the numbers of concentration camps merely trickled out. Today, with the ubiquitous presence of social media, we have no excuse for misunderstanding or misrepresenting the events of October 7. Nevertheless, mainstream media is weaponizing truth into lies day and night in every time zone. It is essential to listen to trustworthy media only, which I will mention in my closing.

The goals of Hamas replicate the Third Reich’s homicidal goals. Back then, most of Germany’s Protestant and Catholic clergy and their congregations embraced the Nazis. Now, too, many clergy and churches live in dangerous passivity by departing from God’s redemptive vision through Israel and the Jews outlined in the Bible.

The 1988 Hamas Charter that is still in force notes in Article 12: “Nationalism, from the point of view of the Islamic Resistance Movement, is part of the religious creed. Nothing in nationalism is more significant or deeper than in the case when an enemy should tread Muslim land. Resisting and quelling the enemy become the individual duty of every Muslim, male or female.”

Hamas claims that theirs is a religious creed, but it strikes me as an addiction. Murdering Jews is their horrific “high”—carried out with no regret. That partly explains these pitiless terrorists acting as if they were producers excitedly filming innocents on a movie set in Israeli homes! Read the statement of Ghazi Hamad, who is part of the Hamas political bureau and who refers to the October 7 attack as Operation al-Aqsa Flood. “We are called a nation of martyrs … proud to sacrifice martyrs,” Hamad declared. “Israel is a country that has no place on our land. We must remove that country,” which he called “a catastrophe to the Arab and Islamic nations.” This statement is the only fact we should believe. Inaction will not stop these brutes. World War II proves my point.

Is it too much to hope that the 2024 annual Days of Remembrance between May 5 and May 12 have awakened facts for naysayers and those whose thinking has been distorted by hatred?

It is debatable as to whether the two—Holocaust Remembrance Day and October 7—should even be mentioned in the same sentence. Yet, it is important now to reiterate the October 7 atrocities, especially since we have massive numbers of facts from the beginning of the attempted holocaust. The genocidal murders of 6 million Jews in World War II, embedded in the Jewish DNA for 90 years now, re-invaded their minds and hearts with demonic intensity—as it took place not in Europe but inside the Jewish homeland. Non-Jews cannot fully grasp the depths of Israel’s national trauma over this lethal invasion into their ancestral homeland—on their own soil—with God’s unbreakable deed thousands of years ago for all eternity.

For me, stepping into any Jewish commemoration is a step into history both ancient and modern, celebratory or somber. On May 5, I attended a somber, emotional, yet uplifting program sponsored by the Birmingham Jewish Foundation in Alabama. Movingly presented with memorable storytelling, honoring both Holocaust survivors and liberators, it also included a special tribute to the late Amnon Weinstein. Weinstein was the Israeli founder of the world-renowned Violins of Hope, violins lovingly restored for the last 30 years by luthiers Amnon and his son, Avshi.

Amnon and Avshi had appeared in Birmingham in 2018 with 60 of the precious, restored Holocaust-era violins. The recent tribute to Amnon, the brilliant recipient of honors worldwide, including Germany’s Federal Cross of Merit, is close to my heart. I served on the board of the South Carolina Violins of Hope, and in April 2022, with numerous sponsors, we held four large-scale concerts featuring the historic violins as well as numerous smaller venues. Around 10,000 attended and heard one of Amnon’s inspiring quotes, “Our violins present the victory of the human spirit over evil and hatred.” 

Nazis murdered 400 of Weinstein’s family during the Shoah. In the 1930s, his parents escaped from Poland to Israel, where Amnon’s father set up shop in Tel Aviv. Amnon and his son, Avshi, carried on the business, dedicating it to collecting and restoring violins played by Jewish musicians held in concentration camps during the Holocaust. After concerts in 2018, Amnon and Avshi presented Violins of Hope Birmingham with the lovingly restored violin. As part of the May 5th tribute, a local violinist played two beautiful melodies. My tears fell as I heard the century-old violin and prayed for Jews worldwide who are facing danger at every turn.

In the Samford University auditorium (no protesters outside or inside), in stories told by Holocaust survivors and their families, several comments clearly reminded me of Hamas. “After the Holocaust, survivors were liberated but not free.” “Nazis began a steady drip then moved into shocking speed.” “A small rockslide must be removed quickly because an avalanche is unstoppable.” “At Buchenwald, when Allies freed the survivors, the killing furnaces still burned with Jewish bodies.”

Nazis and Hamas are both cut from rancid, evil cloth. Hamas’s attempted holocaust was stopped, yet Israelis are not free from their national trauma and not yet totally victorious. Hamas has repeatedly fired barrages of rockets into Israel for almost 20 years, then with shocking speed in the al-Aqsa Flood on October 7. Burning Jewish families tied together and babies in the ovens of homes in the Israeli kibbutzim reenacted the Nazi tool of demonic fire.

Ghazi Hamad says Hamas are victims. “Therefore, nobody should blame us for the things we do. On October 7, October 10, October 1,000,000—everything we do is justified!” If you believe what Ghazi Hamad defends, then act!

This article originally appeared here and is reposted with permission.

A speaker and consultant, Arlene Bridges Samuels authors the weekly feature column for The Christian Broadcasting Network/Israel on their Facebook and Blog since 2020. Previously she pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Retiring after nine years, she worked part-time for International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA as Outreach Director for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel (ACLI) Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel, often traveling to Israel since 1990. By invitation she attends the Israel Government Press Office (GPO) Christian Media Summits as a recognized member of Christian media worldwide. Read more of her articles at CBN Israel blog.

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