I Was One of 36 Jews Arrested Protesting ICE. Never Again Is
ďBut Daddy, why didnít anyone do anything? Didnít they know? Didnít they
The first conversation I had with my father about the Holocaust is seared
into my memory. I was maybe seven or eight when he explained to me that
millions of people had been murdered because of their religion, where
they came from, who they loved, or because they were disabled.
ďIt might have been because they didnít know,Ē he replied, ďor it might
have been because they truly didnít care or they agreed with the Nazis.
But I think for most people it was that things got worse over such a long
period of time that they got used to it. It felt normal to them, and then
it was too late.Ē
I was among the
36 Jews arrested Sunday outside the ICE detention center in
Elizabeth, New Jersey as part of the
Never Again Action. We
came together from all across the country - from California and
Washington State, from Colorado and Missouri - to protest and put our
bodies on the line because we see the same pattern my father described
Many people donít know what is happening.
Some people donít care or agree with this administrationís xenophobic
But most people simply havenít been trained to see the warning signs, and
things are getting worse so slowly that they wonít notice until it is too
Unless we do something.
We Jews know in our ancestral memory what the precursors to ethnic
cleansing look like. They look like roundups and mass deportations. They
look like detention camps where ďundesirablesĒ are concentrated and
segregated away from the general population ≠ also known as concentration
camps. They look like
They look like what is happening to undocumented people, asylum seekers,
and refugees in America today. Itís really that simple.
And so I have a few questions for
my fellow Jews who claim that we have somehow diminished the term
ďNever AgainĒ by using it to refer to the disaster unfolding before
Does it have to get to the point of medical experiments and mass graves,
gas chambers and burning pits before you will compare it to the
Holocaust? Do we have to let it get that bad before we learn the lessons
of history and take action as God commands us?
Do you really believe, given the conditions in the camps and the
glee with which many of the perpetrators are discussing the
dehumanization of their victims, that these people are capable of
checking themselves before it gets to that point?
There are many people in America today who still do not know what is
being done in our names. But if we Jews all speak with one voice, from
our ancestral experience, nobody will be able to say they didnít know, or
that it crept up on them too slowly for them to notice.
We wonít be able to change the hearts and minds of those who truly do not
care or who agree with the way things are unfolding; but we invite every
decent person who takes the Holocaust seriously to get involved
Before itís too late.
Tae Phoenix is a singer-songwriter who uses music as a community
organizing tool. She works with the Washington Poor Peopleís Campaign,
Seattle Indivisible, and the Womenís March among others. Follow her on
Twitter @taephoenix. To listen to her music and get involved, visit
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