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International Holocaust Remembrance Day is marked amid rising global anti-Semitism and Iranian threats

Netanyahu: ''Never again' isn’t a slogan'

Visiters at Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem (Photo courtesy)

Amid an ongoing pandemic and rising anti-Semitism, Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, marked the annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The international remembrance is observed on Jan. 27, the day that Auschwitz was liberated. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, International Holocaust Remembrance Day events went online this year. 

Referring to the Iranian regime’s threats to wipe out the Jewish state, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in a speech that the world has not learned the lessons of the Holocaust. 

"'Never again' isn’t a slogan. This is our policy and this is our mission, and we will always carry it out," Netanyahu said. 

"Seventy-six years later, the history and stories from the Holocaust are more relevant than ever," remarked Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev. "Today, as the world continues to battle expressions of hatred, anti-Semitism and xenophobia, the significance and meanings of the Holocaust are particularly relevant." 

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin will hold an online event together with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček to mark the day.

There are currently 179,600 Holocaust survivors living in Israel. This elderly and fragile population group has been badly hit during the pandemic. Approximately 5,300 Holocaust survivors in Israel were infected with the coronavirus and 900 died from COVID-19 in 2020. 

While the number of Holocaust survivors is dwindling fast, anti-Semitism remains strong. A recent report released by Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Ministry, predicts an increase in anti-Semitism in 2021 due to the spread of conspiracy theories that accuse Jews of the pandemic. The alarming report warns that Jews worldwide will likely face increased hatred as a result of anti-Semitic COVID-19 conspiracy theories.

Global lockdowns led to a sharp decline in physical attacks on Jews worldwide in 2020, but anti-Semitism is increasingly moving online as a result of people spending far more time at home. The report particularly attributed the rise in anti-Semitism to the increased use of the #COVID48 hashtag, which compares the birth of modern Israel in 1948 to the coronavirus. The depiction of Jews as vermin, and a virus, in search of world domination dates back centuries. The inflammatory hashtag, which appears to be of Iranian origin, has reportedly been used around a quarter of million times online. 

Speaking at the Park East Synagogue in New York to mark the 76th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged a global alliance against the rise of neo-Nazism. 

“We need coordinated global action, on the scale of the threat we face, to build an alliance against the growth and spread of neo-Nazism and white supremacy, and to fight propaganda and disinformation,” Guterres said.

According to Guterres, U.S. authorities have warned of rising neo-Nazism across America and worldwide. Guterres further claimed that neo-Nazis have infiltrated the police and state security services in unnamed countries. 

While the threat from the far Right and neo-Nazism is real, Guterres did not mention the lethal anti-Semitism emanating from the far-Left and Islamist fundamentalists such as the Iranian ayatollah regime and its proxies, the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah. Iran’s regime has frequently denied the Holocaust while simultaneously threatening to wipe out Israel. 

Just on Tuesday, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan asked the Security Council why the world is not addressing the gravest danger in the Middle East: the regime in Tehran.”

“Iran does not try to hide its intention of destroying the world’s only Jewish state. Spreading anti-Semitism, denying the Holocaust, and even proposing legislation calling for Israel’s destruction by the year 2041,” Erdan argued.

Writing on behalf of his organization and from personal experience, Ronen Plot, acting and deputy chairman of Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, noted that this is a critical time in the fight against anti-Semitism.

"I pledge on behalf of the second generation of Holocaust survivors and in the name of future generations that we will do everything in our power to fortify Israel and to pass on to our children and grandchildren, here and in the Jewish world, a torch of remembrance and heroism that can never be extinguished," he wrote.

A strong ray of hope, however, was offered at an event sponosed by Sharaka where Gulf state Arabs joined Israelis and Jews worldwide to remember the Holocaust together.

“I would like to say to all Jews and the people of Israel – you are not alone anymore,” said Mashael Al-Shemeri from Bahrain.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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