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Stop dropping the H* (Hitler) bomb and other crucial lessons for 2017 on Holocaust Memorial Day

In a Jan. 26, 2005 file photo, visitors walk under the notorious "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign  at  the entrance gate of the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp in Oswiecim, southern Poland.

In a Jan. 26, 2005 file photo, visitors walk under the notorious "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign at the entrance gate of the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp in Oswiecim, southern Poland.  (AP/File)

January 27th marks International Holocaust Memorial Day. It is the anniversary of the liberation of the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau Death Camp, by Soviet forces.

The “liberation” was too late for 1 million Jews who were gassed, experimented on or worked to death along with hundreds of thousands of Russian POWs, Gypsies and Poles, murdered there. Historians til this day question why US and British bombers which flew over the death camp never dropped their payloads on the gas chambers and crematoria when they were in full use, murdering and incinerating innocents.

By the time Nazi Germany was defeated in May 1945, 6 million Jews had been systematically murdered, including Anne Frank and 1.5 million other Jewish children.

January 27th is the day that the United Nations and governments on three continents pause from their overwhelming indifference to the fate of 14 million living Jews to remember 6 million dead Jews. These include countries like Sweden, whose political leaders have compared Israel to Nazi Germany and fail to protect their Jewish citizens from Islamist extremists in their midst.

In 2017, there are crucial lessons about today’s evil we should be drawing from the past. Ask the Yezidis, the ethnically-cleansed Christians of Iraq and the Syrian children choked to death by Assad’s chemical weapons.

The names and images of Hitler and the Nazis are also invoked by Iran -- whose regime denies the Holocaust ever occurred while simultaneously accusing the Jewish state of Nazi-like crimes against Palestinians.

This monstrous tactic of equating the Star of David with the Swastika, is also widely deployed across the Arab world and by many pro-Palestinian activists on campuses, NGOs, and yes, even churches.

There are important core lessons about the price humankind can pay when civilized people react only with indifference and apathy in the face of evil.

For one, we should remember that hateful words have consequences. Hitler’s genocidal hatred for Jews did not arise out of a vacuum. He drank from a deep reservoir of anti-Semitism ranging from theological rants of Martin Luther to Vienna Mayor Karl Leuger, the man who brought the city and his own virulent “modern” anti-Jewish rhetoric into the 20th Century. Hitler first openly expressed his ideas of ridding Germany of the Jews in 1919, twenty years before he unleashed WWII.

Secondly, it takes deeds, not mere words to defeat evil. Hitler could have been stopped in the 1920s before he rose to power. The world could have boycotted the 1936 Berlin Olympics to protest Nazi Germany’s draconian moves against its Jews. Instead, they rushed to fill his stadiums. No nations recalled their ambassadors after German and Austrian synagogues were systematically torched. When Czechoslovakia was threatened in 1938, European leaders bet they could buy off Hitler’s threats and hate with soothing words and dramatic diplomatic photo-ops. They were dead wrong. A year later Hitler plunged the world into war, chaos and genocide.

Academic degrees and social status should never be confused with ethics and morality. German physicians rushed to join the Nazi Party. Many of them would violate their Hippocratic oath by euthanizing the mentally and physically “unfit” and later perform “medical” experiments on Jewish and Gypsy pregnant women and twins.

German lawyers rushed to join the Nazi Party to write a new canon of law legalizing racism, anti-Semitism, theft and ultimately murder. German judges retained their robes and gavels as they too did their part to strip German Jews of their rights, paving the way for Jews to disappear into the abyss of the Holocaust kingdom.

In 2017, there are crucial lessons about today’s evil we should be drawing from the past. Ask the Yezidis, the ethnically-cleansed Christians of Iraq and the Syrian children choked to death by Assad’s chemical weapons. Ask the Iranian people who took to the streets of Tehran during the Green Revolution and were rewarded with stone-cold silence from then President Obama and other world leaders. Ask the hundreds of thousands of suffering silent victims in North Korea’s Gulag as the leader in Pyongyang escalates his nuclear threats from Seoul and Tokyo, to Los Angeles.

On this Holocaust Memorial Day, I beseech Americans to stop dropping the H*(for Hitler) bomb on America’s political divide.

Love him or hate him, President Donald Trump is no Hitler. Denouncing the democratically elected leader of our country and his cabinet as Nazis denigrates the victims of the past and could cripple our ability to confront and defeat future tyrants and terrorists.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is Associate Dean, Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. Follow the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Facebook and on Twitter