I'm a Jew, and a few months ago I took two DNA tests, expecting one of them to expose some hidden secret that I'm less Jewish than I thought. I was wrong. I am 99.3% Ashkenazi Jewish. I also happen to be very protective of groups that I fit into, like my zodiac sign, or in this case, Judaism. Recently, I see more and more people comparing their grievances, whether religious, political, or civil, to the Holocaust. It's downright wrong.
How did the Holocaust get its name?
"Holocaust" comes from the Greek word holokauston, which was a translation of the Hebrew word 'olah, which translates to “a sacrifice completely consumed by fire." According to Britannica, "This word was chosen, and gained wide usage, because, in the ultimate manifestation of the Nazi killing program—the extermination camps—the bodies of the victims were consumed whole in crematoria or open fires." HuffPost thinks that the word is "implying that Jews and other 'undesirables' murdered during World War II were a sacrifice to God." Personally, I think both meanings fit, but HuffPost makes me a little uncomfortable using the word "Holocaust." Shoah, the Hebrew word for "catastrophe" is the preferred name. The word is used throughout Israel, and by many survivors.
So what is being compared to the Holocaust?
For a long time, many vegans have been trying to convince others to make the diet switch and go vegan. They usually use tactics relating to animal cruelty or health benefits. Both of these are totally fine, the problem is when vegans compare animal cruelty to the Holocaust. While I do think that animals need to be treated better, it is nowhere near the barbarity of the Holocaust.
By comparing the Holocaust to the cruelty of animals, vegans are thinking the exact way that Hitler wanted people to. By comparing the mass torture and murder of innocent people, to animals, you are saying the the Jewish people are subhuman, or animals. My ancestors were called rodents and pigs by evil Nazis. Saying that human death and animal death are the same thing is ignorant and antisemitic.
@thatveganteacher on TikTok has been known to say inappropriate things relating to veganism and animal cruelty, but this was the cream of the crop.
The picture above shows sheep being herded off to a concentration camp labeled with a giant swastika. This photo is meant to be compared to Jews being marched like animals to their death. It's absolutely sickening.
Yet another disgusting photo of men in concentration camp during the Holocaust being compared to cooped up chickens, with the title reading, "to animals, all people are Nazis".
It's honestly hard for me to see all these photos and videos, made by people who are crass in a similar way to Hitler. Animal lives ≠ human lives.
Abortion is also often being compared to the Holocaust by pro-lifers. They compare the 40 million yearly aborted fetuses to the 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust. While I understand where they are coming from, it does not mean that this comparison is not hurtful and insensitive. In Judaism, the fetus is considered a physical part of the pregnant individual's body. The fetus is not viewed as a separate entity until the first breath is taken; therefore abortion is not considered murder. Is it encouraged? no, but is it murder? also no. The comparison of abortions to the Holocaust is suited to fit a Christian's belief about abortion, not a Jewish person's. I doubt that any Jew is okay with aborted fetuses being compared to the slaughter of our ancestors.
During the Holocaust, a Romanian doctor, Dr. Gisella Perl, worked with Josef Mengele, an Auschwitz doctor known for his horrifying torture of his victims. Instead of becoming Mengele 2.0, she risked her life to save hundreds of pregnant women. During the Holocaust, pregnant women were sent to gas chambers when they arrived at concentration camps. Rape was common in the camps, and when women fell pregnant they were desperate to escape discovery, and survive. Perl helped by secretly performing abortions in extremely difficult conditions. She didn't have anesthesia, bandages, or instruments; she only used her bare hands. The only thing she could do to comfort her patients was talk to them, and comfort them with her words.
Directly comparing abortions to the Holocaust erases the life saving work that Dr. Gisella Perl performed. Abortions were not seen as evil during the Holocaust, instead they were viewed as a life saving miracle, especially since the fetus was the result of rape.
Fetus lives ≠ human lives.
Comparing the Holocaust to smaller issues today is not right at all. People using these comparisons are simply using the tragedy to fit their own agenda. They weaponize the Holocaust, when it most definitely should not be weaponized. The Holocaust was a horrific, and heart sickening period of time. It should be remembered in sadness and in unity, not used to benefit one's cause. It should be remembered as one of the darkest periods in human history. Comparing it to anything else minimizes its significance.
Fleet, Josh. “Are We Still Comfortable With The Term Holocaust?” HuffPost, HuffPost, 28 Mar. 2012, www.huffpost.com/entry/the-word-holocaust-history-and-meaning_n_1229043.
Frederiks, Jo. “Animal Concentration Camp.” Inhabitat, 16 Apr. 2015, inhabitat.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2015/04/Animal-Concentration-Camp-Jo-Frederiks.jpg.
“Holocaust.” Dictionary.com, Dictionary.com, www.dictionary.com/browse/holocaust.
“Judaism and Abortion.” National Council of Jewish Women, National Council of Jewish Women St. Louis, www.ncjw.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Judaism-and-Abortion-FINAL.pdf.
“Live Action on TikTok.” TikTok, Liveactionorg, 8 Dec. 2020, vm.tiktok.com/ZMJKpHcYe/.
Pildis, Carly. “Leave the Holocaust Out of Your Abortion Debate.” Tablet Magazine, Tablet Magazine, 23 May 2019, www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/leave-holocaust-out-of-abortion-debate.
Sobel, Ariel. “Dear Vegans, Stop Comparing Animal Slaughter to the Holocaust.” Alma, 3 Oct. 2018, www.heyalma.com/dear-vegans-stop-comparing-animal-slaughter-to-the-holocaust/.
“That Vegan Teacher 🦋 on TikTok.” TikTok, 23 Jan. 2021, vm.tiktok.com/ZMJKyxWCc/.
“What Is the Origin of the Term Holocaust?” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., www.britannica.com/story/what-is-the-origin-of-the-term-holocaust.