Broadening Shoah Remembrance

STEPHEN D. SMITH, Executive Director, USC Shoah Foundation Institute

“Last week, Manhattan College also appointed a Muslim woman, Mehnaz Afridi, as director of its renamed Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center. The appointment, coupled with the college’s decision to study other genocides and embrace an interfaith message, quickly drew fire from critics. An Islamic woman running a Holocaust program? they asked.

I’m no stranger to the question of who has the right to run a Holocaust center. As the son of a Methodist minister from rural Nottinghamshire, England, I was not the obvious founder of the UK Holocaust Centre. Nor was I the plain choice to be chairman of National Holocaust Memorial Day. Yet for a period of time, my colleague and I—a Muslim and a Christian—led Britain’s day of remembrance.

Actually, it made and still makes perfect sense.  The Holocaust was not the making of the Jewish community. Nazi anti-Semitism and its many Christian antecedents were the products of European civilization.  The Holocaust is a heavy burden for the Jewish world, but it is not its responsibility.  The onus to remember and then change things lies squarely with us all in equal measure.”

For the full commentary, visit the Jewish Journal.

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