The significant gathering of leaders at Yad Vashem this week presents an opportunity to examine what has been accomplished since the 2005 UN resolution in the fight against antisemitism.
This impressive event reflects an international consensus regarding recognition of the dreadful uniqueness of the Holocaust of the Jewish people, and the imperative to “Never Forget.” Such international recognition was first formalized in the United Nations General Assembly resolution of November 1, 2005, designating January 27 – the day Auschwitz was liberated – as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The decision to encourage UN member countries to honor Holocaust victims, which had been initiated by former Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom, was adopted unanimously and thus established a world-wide responsibility both to remember the victims and to educate about this genocide in order to prevent similar atrocities in the future.
The significant gathering of leaders at Yad Vashem this week presents an opportunity to examine what has been accomplished since the 2005 UN resolution in the fight against antisemitism, racism and Holocaust denial, as well as the work to preserve the memories of those who were lost. It is gratifying to note the many countries that hold official events on this bleak day, along with historical, cultural and educational activities that preserve information for future generations and combat ignorance, indifference and historical revisionism.
At the same time, alarmingly, antisemitism is increasing significantly. Data collected in a number of countries show a dramatic increase in antisemitic violence, including the murder of Jews in their homes, schools and synagogues. The conference in Jerusalem must therefore establish strong momentum for a collaborative effort to reverse this trend.
The way to deal with hate crimes is, of course, appropriate legislation in each country and enforcement of those laws by local judicial systems. Concurrently, we must be forward-thinking and focus on educating younger generations.
I call on the leaders gathering in Jerusalem to invest in ambitious and large-scale education programs that combat racism, antisemitism, xenophobia and supremacism, just as the Jewish Agency does through our Israeli emissaries throughout the world. This can also be accomplished through international bodies such as the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), or through new frameworks set up to address the issue. None of us are exempt from the obligation to instill in our young people a commitment to tolerance, diversity and understanding of the other.
Seventy-five years after the liberation of Auschwitz, we must launch a widespread war on antisemitism and hatred wherever they rear their heads. Doing so will demonstrate true respect for those who perished and bring a comforting semblance of meaning to their sacrifice.