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The Holocaust: Beyond Remembrance


April 14, 2015 | USCIRF

WASHINGTON, D.C. - April 15 is Yom Hashoah, Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day, an international day commemorating the six million Jews murdered by Nazi Germany and her allies.  It is a solemn day of remembrance, recalling those who suffered and died and those who fought against this evil.  

“As we honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and those who fought against the Nazis and their sympathizers, we must go beyond remembering and condemn the torrent of virulent anti-Semitism that has been unleashed seventy years after the Holocaust’s end.  We also must condemn the continued existence and growth of Holocaust denial, an especially solemn responsibility given the gradual disappearance of the generations who witnessed the Nazi evil," said Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).    

The murder of four Jews in the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in Paris during January’s terrorist attacks in Paris highlights the alarming rise of anti-Semitism in France, home to Europe’s largest Jewish community.  However, anti-Semitism’s rise is not limited to France.  Killings have taken place in Denmark and Belgium, Jewish businesses have been attacked in cities across Europe, cemeteries have been defaced, hateful chants have rung out in soccer stadiums, and harassment has occurred in virtually every capital city on the continent.  And this disturbing litany of hatred is not merely anecdotal in nature.  According to the Pew Research Center, by 2013, Jews were harassed in 34 of 45 European countries and, according to some polls, nearly one in four Europeans hold anti-Jewish attitudes.  Furthermore, anti-Semitic harassment worldwide has reached a seven-year high. 

To this day, many governments still perpetrate or tolerate conduct which targets Jews and fosters anti-Semitism.  In Iran, organizers in Tehran in early May will stage the Second International Holocaust Cartoon Contest, and elsewhere in the region, anti-Semitism persists in most educational systems, including in Egypt, as well as in largely government controlled media.  Anti-Semitic literature from Middle East countries, like Saudi Arabia, continue to promote publications such as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious forgery from early twentieth century Russia.  Outside of the Middle East, in post-Soviet Russia, "skinhead" groups commit violent acts of anti-Semitism in the name of Russian nationalism.

“We dare not remain silent in the face of this alarming resurgence of anti-Semitism, but we are equally obligated to speak out when other peoples similarly are threatened.  The Yazidis and Christians of the Middle East now are threatened with enslavement and extinction at the hands of ISIL and other violent religious extremists.  As we remember the tragedy of the genocide against the Jews, we must stiffen our determination to defend the fundamental rights of all persecuted people.  Yom Hashoah is a time to remember that if the human family is to endure and prevail, we must indeed be our brother’s keepers,” concluded Dr. Lantos Swett.  

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