Lessons Learned: Why I told young people how I survived

16 Oct 2016 by CST

This article by Mala Tribuch MBE originally appeared in the Holocaust Education Trust and CST booklet ‘Lessons Learned? Reflections on Antisemitism and the Holocaust’. Read the full article in the booklet here.

At the end of World War II, when I was liberated from Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, the revelation of what had been happening in the occupied countries to Jews and others brought about such revulsion that I thought that antisemitism would be a thing of the past.

Sadly, the irrational hatred of Jewish people has not disappeared. I don’t use social media, so I was shocked when someone sent me examples of the foul antisemitic lies which appear there, and the disgusting personal attacks aimed at Jewish MPs, even by members of their own Party. I think that social media, which was originally introduced to allow friends to communicate and reconnect, has unwittingly provided a platform which allows any crank or bigot who previously could muster a small audience on a street corner to broadcast deranged ideas worldwide. I feel that those who have made a fortune out of allowing the publication of such filth bear a heavy responsibility for the spread of intolerance.

I recently had a very uncomfortable experience at a formal dinner at one of our ancient universities. It came up in conversation that I am Jewish. My dining companion, a teacher, immediately said “Oh, so what do you think of Israel, the rogue state?” I am well aware that there is scope for genuine disagreement about some of the policies of the Israeli government, but in my view this hostile question, damning an entire nation, is beyond the pale. I was especially disturbed that a teacher could have such an ignorant, dogmatic, and one sided opinion about the only Jewish State, and apparently be so ignorant of its history.


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