AUSTRALIA’S Parliament this week reaffirmed its promise to “never forget” the six million Jews who perished in the Shoah when it moved a bipartisan motion, proposed by Jewish Liberal MP Julian Leeser, marking last month’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The motion acknowledged the “ongoing efforts of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance to advance and promote Holocaust education to ensure the history and stories of its victims are passed on to successive generations”, and states the federal government is “committed to supporting Holocaust museums in each state and territory in Australia”.
Stressing the importance of Shoah education, Leeser said, “While my generation has had the privilege of meeting the survivors, by the time children born in a few years are old enough to understand what happened in the Holocaust, those survivors will be gone.
“For a coming generation without the survivors, the danger is that the Holocaust will seem as long ago as the pogroms, the Crusades and slavery in Egypt. And then it will be up to us to tell the next generation our memory of the survivors and their stories, to help turn our memories into the memories of the next generation.”
Jewish Labor MP Josh Burns paid tribute to the “wonderful multicultural community that is Australia”, noting his grandmother was among those who had fled persecution and found safety here.
“She left Germany in October 1938, one week before the Kristallnacht. She eventually, via a very long boat trip via Canada, made her way to Melbourne, Australia – as far away as possible, on the other side of the planet,” Burns said.
“I am eternally grateful to this nation and this country for being a refuge, for being a safe place, for my grandmother and for the family she, like so many other survivors, was able to establish here in Australia.”
Meanwhile, Liberal MP and former ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma warned, “We see alive and well today some of the bigotry, intolerance, extremism and dehumanisation that was really at the heart of the Holocaust.
“Whether it was the exhibition of far right, antisemitic nationalists camping in the Grampians over the summer … whether it’s the casual use of the swastika that we’ve seen in our electorates … or whether it’s the language that’s used at times to talk about other people and other faiths and to stereotype, castigate and dehumanise. Unfortunately, I think we still see that far too prevalently in our world today.”