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The silent holocaust is a phrase that is used to refer to several unrelated items.
- Abortion, among some involved in pro-life activism. One group has even named itself "Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust."
- Certain Jewish communal and religious leaders have used this term to describe Jewish assimilation (cultural assimilation, religious assimilation) and interfaith marriage of Jews with gentiles.
The term is often highly controversial, regardless of use.
Use in pro-life circles
To pro-life activists, the silent holocaust refers to more than 50,000,000 fetuses that have been aborted in the United States since 1973. One activist group, known as the "Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust," feels that everyone has been directly affected by this holocaust because all people have been denied the company of aborted individuals. This group believes it is their job to "defend the right to life of future generations and end America's genocide."
Referring to assimilation of Jews
Concerned Jewish people sometimes refer to assimilation (along with abortion within the Jewish community) as a type of "Holocaust". This is because assimilation  is the leading cause for the shrinkage of almost all Jewish populations in Western countries. Since World War II, and it has been called the Silent Holocaust  (in comparison to the genocide against Jews during World War II) by communal leaders such as Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald of the National Jewish Outreach Program, perhaps the best-known popularizer of the phrase.
Controversy with the Assimilation usage
As noted above, use of the term "Silent Holocaust" is highly controversial and occurs mainly among Orthodox Jews of conservative and Nationalist tendencies. An especially outspoken opponent of the term and the train of thought behind it is Shulamit Aloni. Shulamit Aloni is a former Israeli Education Minister, who considered its use "an insult to and desecration of the Holocaust victims' memory".
Adam Keller, editor of the Tel Aviv-based The Other Israel, spoke at length on the issue during a lecture tour of the US in September 2004, especially in the course of an intense and highly emotive debate with right-wing Jewish hecklers on the university campus at Fullerton, California. Among other things he said on that occasion:
"I find this term, 'Silent Holocaust', more obscene than all the pornography in the world put together. The Holocaust, from which my mother and my father barely escaped and in which many of their relatives perished, was the systematic genocide and mass murder of millions of people, solely because of their ethnic and religious identity. The so-called "silent holocaust" is the freely chosen exercise by human beings of the right to choose a spouse and live a happy and satisfying life with him or her, a right specifically guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which the State of Israel is one of the first signatories. Only a monstrously perverted mind can possibly conceive of making such a comparison. This comes from a mindset in which an individual counts for nothing, his or her wishes count for nothing, and the individual's only worth is as being a component of an overwhelming, all-supreme Nation or Ethnos. This is a racist way of thinking, a fascist way of thinking. It is, I must say, Hitler's way of thinking, and I am deeply ashamed that some Jews have taken it for their own."
- "Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust Homepage". Retrieved 2009-11-09.
- Berger, Ronald J. (2010). Surviving the Holocaust: A Life Course Perspective (1. publ. ed.). New York: Routledge. p. 149. ISBN 9780203848517.
- Edgar M. Bronfman, Beth Zasloff (2008). Hope, Not Fear: A Path to Jewish Renaissance. Macmillan. p. 24. ISBN 9781429947213.