‘Never Again’ Is Becoming ‘Yet Again’ in a Burgeoning Twenty-First Century Holocaust
Never Again Must Be Now
Instruments from the Violins of Hope collection
Violins of Hope Nashville, presented by the Nashville Symphony and the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee in the spring of 2018, displayed a historic, private collection of violins, violas, and cellos amassed after World War II. Many of the instruments include symbolic inlays with the Star of David and were donated by or bought from Holocaust survivors; they were played by Jewish musicians in ghettos and concentration camps.
Yet just five years later, displays of caution and remembrance in Nashville are replaced with billboards that read, ominously: “Cultural Jews died in the gas chambers too. Speak up.” The three billboards, placed by JewBelong, are in response to the antisemitism sparked by the Israel-Hamas War, which has lead to an increase in hate crimes. “Antisemitism everywhere, even in Nashville, feeds into the hands of Hamas and its goals. In 2022, Tennessee experienced a 135 percent increase in antisemitic incidents. We chose to put billboards in Nashville because of that rise,” said Archie Gottesman, co-founder of JewBelong. There has been nearly a 400 percent increase in antisemitic incidents across the nation, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). “Never again” is rapidly becoming “yet again”: a modern-day Holocaust began unfolding when Hamas terrorists invaded Israel on October 7, genocidal attempts on Jewish people continue, and state-sponsored persecution persists.
On October 7—the final day of Sukkot, the joyous Feast of Tabernacles—the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas launched a comprehensive attack, which they called Operation Al-Aqsa Flood (Jews had visited or “flooded” the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound—the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem), against Israel. Drones were launched and bombs were dropped on Israeli military outposts. Rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, penetrating their Iron Dome defense system. The border fence was breached and the Hamas terrorists poured in and attacked, slaughtered, and kidnapped innocent civilians. Hundreds of Israelis were killed, a woman’s naked body was reportedly paraded through the streets while Hamas fighters sat on her body, a baby was “riddled with bullets, soldiers beheaded, and young people burned alive in their cars and hideaways,” according to Reuters. The IDF responded and the Israel-Hamas War continues to date. A report claims that Hamas had prepared and trained for over a year before the attack.
Genocidal attempts on the lives of Jewish people are continuing in Israel and have moved beyond the border to nations around the world. “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” is a reference to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The chant is widely understood to demand the destruction of Israel and all Jewish people. It has most recently been shouted from the streets at pro-Palestinian rallies around the globe. President of Israel Isaac Herzog spoke on the rise of antisemitism around the world: “This is a message that must be heard loud and clear. When they say ‘from the river to the sea,’ they mean no Jews.” The ultimate goal is the annihilation of Israel and all Jewish people.
The number of antisemitic incidents has risen since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas War, and political leaders have become even more emboldened to voice pro-Palestinian support. “We will tell the whole world that Israel is a war criminal. We are making preparations for this. We will declare Israel a war criminal,” President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said while addressing supporters at a large pro-Palestinian rally in Istanbul. Uprisings and rallies have also taken place in London, Rome, Baghdad, and New York City. One such NYC rally, promoted by the Democratic Socialists of America “featured protesters stomping on and burning an Israeli flag and using a swastika image to taunt counter-protesters supporting the Jewish state,” reported the New York Post. Pro-Palestinian rallies have also taken place at colleges and universities across the country, serving as hostile reminders of the consequences of the prioritization of activism over education in America’s institutions of learning.
Disinformation, dehumanization, and lies.
The Nazis, Hitler, Germany. Kristallnacht.
Hajj Amin Al-Husayni, The Mufti of Jerusalem.
Concentration camps, ghettos, gas chambers, swastikas.
Auschwitz-Birkenau, “Arbeit Macht Frei,” Stutthof, Sachsenhausen, Treblinka.
Ravensbrück, Corrie ten Boom and the family ten Boom.
Six million Jews murdered.
“Never again,” we said.
The haunting echo of the strings once played seems to be getting louder. The “violins of hope” seem to be teetering on the edge of hopelessness. Pray the soundtrack of the Holocaust is not performed once more … and that “never again” does not become “yet again.”
Holly Abernathy is a communications and creative arts professional. She works in a variety of media and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. For more information, visit 6qCreative.com.