EDITOR'S NOTE: This blog previously contained quotation marks around the six million figure on Holocaust deaths. The author did not mean to cast doubt over the figure, it was meant as a quotation. We apologise for any offence this caused.
For the US and EU member states, January 27 is a time to reflect on the horror that was the Holocaust. As the number of living survivors of that genocide dwindles, it's more important than ever they give their public testimonies so that for the younger generations, it's not just some random, freak occurrence they read about in history books, staring at black and white pictures. In this age of hyper-technology, it needs to be 'real' - to have a human face, lest it should ever happen again.
But wouldn't it be wonderful if there was such a day to commemorate the millions of black African victims of slavery? Unlike the six million figure that so often goes with statistic about the number of Jews killed during the Second World War, it's not so easy to quantify when it comes to black slaves. It's estimated that as many as 2.4 million black Africans died just in the crossing from Africa to the Americas. Those are the ones who perished in horrendous conditions of slave boats as they were transported in worse conditions than cattle. That figure is certain to grow once you factor in the number that were worked and beaten to death, lynched or starved.
Since this month's awful attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris during which Amedy Coulibaly murdered four Jewish people, a lot has been made of the 5,000 Jews who emigrated from France to Israel last year. Whilst feelings about a lack of safety has been cited as a reason, it's heartening to see the number of Jews that have pointed out the economic circumstances tied to these departures and dismissed the "fears of a growing wave of anti-semitism". What about the 60,000 illegal immigrants from Africa that paid thousands of euros they don't have to huddle onto overcrowded boats last year, praying to reach Europe? And when tragedies like Lampedusa happen, killing more than 350 people... Not all the desperate people fleeing to Europe are black Africans, but a significant portion of them are.
Let's not forget that nowadays, Jewish lobbying and interest groups are quite powerful in the UK and the US. Israel, the country viewed as the Jewish homeland, is a powerful country with even more powerful world allies. It's telling that South Africa is often seen as the most attractive place on the African continent, be it for tourism, investment or emigration. South Africa - a country ruled by whites under an apartheid system until 1994. For Jewish people, there can be no more victim mentality, no rush to all blame slights and injustices on anti-semitism. Perhaps it's this (what can be perceived as) victim mentality, that causes certain other minority groups to feel a resentment that can be mistaken for, or even turn into, anti-semitism.
I run the risk of being labelled an anti-semite, but I'm not. I'll trot out that well-worn defence against every sort of "ism", but it's true - my best friend is a half-Israeli, secular Jew. I admire the culture, the humour, the togetherness - in fact, I wish there could be a "black community" that stood together so firmly, without the tendency for infighting, jealousy and tearing each other down, but we're not as homogenised a group. I am only pointing out that Jews don't have a monopoly on suffering - nor am I saying that they they claim to. I just think it's time black people got their own 'day' to remember those that died, those that slaved away to lay the foundations for the economic strengths that many Western countries enjoy to this very day - sacrificing their lives for rewards they were excluded from.Suggest a correction