I wish to commend those in South Africa’s Muslim community who have chosen to commemorate an event which has particular resonance for Jews, both within and without our borders. We must never forget that communists, gypsies, homosexuals, disabled and the unfit, all died together in the Nazi extermination camps. No one group was singled out for special treatment, and all were exposed to the horrors on an equal footing.
As a person of Jewish descent who grew up in the aftermath of the war, and the unspeakable tragedy which was unleashed upon the world, I believe I am entitled to speak out when members of my own community choose to ignore what is universal about the Holocaust, or Shoah as it is also known. Indeed, never again, should be never again for all people.
The universalism of the moral and ethical issues presented by the Nazi extermination camps and the ideology of eugenics which underpinned race supremacist notions of superiority and inferiority in Germany as too in our own country, have a particular lesson for South Africans. It is therefore no coincidence that hearings into Holocaust denial continue apace in Cape Town, as we as a nation slowly begin to confront the twin issue of Apartheid denial, for example attempts to lay the blame for apartheid on an unrelated group instead of tackling the real perpetrators, the ideologues and generals, the propagandists and politicians.
As Africans we need to reach out to the victims and the survivors of these and other tragedies and we need to be cognizant that as we do so, we are witness to new atrocities, the raging wars in the North – both Mali and Sudan which threaten to unleash further killings. As I write this letter, there is word of renewed offenses against humanity as 20 000 Sudanese are reported to have been massacred in Darfur.
Ideologies of race hatred which lead to such terrible deeds, the killing fields of Rwanda, need to be exposed. Ideologies which preach that a particular soul is qualitatively different from other souls, or that one race should be advantaged to the disadvantage of another, these are the seeds of hatred.
I therefore thank you once again for standing up for universalism in particular and human rights for all.
David Robert Lewis