I am ashamed

I am ashamed.

“I hate that you say that whenever the Holocaust comes up,” she says.candle

I am ashamed.

“You shouldn’t say that.”

I shouldn’t say that. There were a lot of people who didn’t say things they shouldn’t say then. Weren’t there?

Then there were the people who did say what they shouldn’t have said. They didn’t fare so well.

Which one am I?

I’m ashamed, because most of the time I’m among those who didn’t speak.

Or maybe it’s the other way around.

Maybe it is easier not to say it, because then I can pretend I don’t know it. It makes it easier if I pretend, like we all pretend, that we don’t know.

But I know it. I know just what I am ashamed of.

“We should remember on this day. What, do you think we should forget?” she asks.

We remember, but we forgot why we should remember.

We should remember.

Why should we remember?

“We should remember so that it can never happen again.”

It’s happening again.

Have you noticed that it’s happening again?

“… so that we will never allow it to happen again.”

We are allowing it to happen again. We are doing worse. We are pretending it is not happening. We are pretending it is not our problem. We are pretending it is not our promise.

I am ashamed.

I am ashamed that in Congo, in Sudan, in Syria and in Myanmar, it is happening. I am ashamed that it is happening in Ethiopia, Somalia, Pakistan, in North Korea and in Afghanistan. I am ashamed that it took me all of 90 seconds to look up where the genocides in the world are happening today and they are happening in 9 countries.

I am ashamed that I don’t really care. Well, if I really cared, I would be ashamed. Maybe I don’t even care enough to be ashamed. Maybe if I think about it for more than 90 seconds and the problem is so big, I’m too small to even wrap my mind around it.

Let me start small. Let me start with the country that is supposed to remember, with Israel.

I am ashamed that my country has closed its borders to refugees from Sudan and Eritrea.

I am ashamed that we changed the law and that now we don’t call them refugees. We call them “Infiltrators.”

I saw a campaign poster in the January elections for parliament. It took full credit, it boasted, that it had succeeded in stopping infiltrators.

I am ashamed that my countrymen voted into power the party that is proud of its achievement of turning away refugees at the border. In every city a billboard. “We turn away refugees. Vote for us.” Not in those words. Because we changed the vocabulary, you see. I am ashamed.

We were once refugees.

It is Holocaust remembrance day.

We should remember.

Why should we remember?

So it won’t happen again.

I am ashamed that my country jails hundred and thousands of refugees, called infiltrators, with no right to legal representation, no name, no number, not even – not even – not even proper winter clothing for cold nights. Even in jail, the prisoners get clothes. Not these ones.

I am ashamed.

I am ashamed that at my country’s borders, my sons and sons of my neighbors sit and watch as the refugees reach the border and my soldiers, my sons, it is their job to watch and wait for the Egyptian soldiers to take the refugees away.

I am ashamed my soldiers are following orders. They are following orders to give the refugees some water and chat them up, and give them hope until the Egyptian soldiers come to get them, and I don’t know what the Egyptians will do with them.

Yes I do.

And they do.

And every. Single. One. Of those boys. Should recognize the phrase:

“I was only following orders.”

I am ashamed that I and my countrymen are not up in arms about this. At least one day a year. At least on this day. Holocaust remembrance day.

We should remember.

We were once slaves in Egypt.

We should remember.

We should be ashamed.

“You shouldn’t say ‘we’,” she says. “It’s wrong to generalize. You say it like you are blaming others.”

I am ashamed.

It is happening again.

I am allowing it to happen.

It is happening again.

I am doing nothing about it.

I am ashamed.