It’s not okay to compare lockdown with Holocaust, says Jewish ...

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It’s not okay to compare lockdown with Holocaust, says Jewish group

Society is becoming increasingly casual and disrespectful to the mass murder of millions: SAJBD

Journalist
The army takes on residents of Sejwetla, an informal settlement in Alexandra, Johannesburg.
Gestapo-like? The army takes on residents of Sejwetla, an informal settlement in Alexandra, Johannesburg.
Image: Alon Skuy/File

The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has lambasted comparisons between Covid-19 lockdown regulations and the Holocaust as “disrespectful to the mass murder of millions”.

Speaking to Times Select, president of the board and director of the Durban Holocaust and Genocide Centre Mary Kluk said it has become almost commonplace to use Nazi comparisons for just about any situation, and not only in SA.

“It is all too easy to forget that there are many people still alive for whom the Holocaust is not ‘history’, but their life story and that of their families.

 “They carry the painful memories of the brutal murder of a cherished baby boy, the rape of a beloved sister, the parents arrested and never seen again,” Kluk said.

As South Africans face unprecedented level 4 restrictions, including a curfew and limited economic activity excluding the sale of alcohol and cigarettes, criticism is mounting, with some social media users likening the government to Nazi Germany’s secret police, the Gestapo.

Kluk said online discussions tend to encourage extreme opinions, thereby allowing people to live in echo chambers of their own ideologies.

“As the Holocaust recedes in time, society is becoming increasingly casual and disrespectful to the mass murder of millions. More dangerous, today the internet disseminates insensitive or hateful remarks with unprecedented ease and influence.

“When we resort to grossly simplified Holocaust imagery and analogies we demean the memory of the dead,” Kluk said.

The umbrella body of the SA Jewish community took the opportunity to remind those drawing comparisons that about six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. At least one million were children.

“Any comparison with the Holocaust is flippant and insensitive,” she added. 

Instead, she called for a spirit of co-operation, unity of vision and caring for one another.

“We will not only succeed in overcoming these challenges, but emerge all the stronger, as a people and a country, as we prepare to adapt to a post-Covid-19 future.”

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