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UN General Assembly approves Israeli resolution that fights Holocaust denial and distortion

Israeli UN ambassador: “We now live in an era in which fiction is becoming fact and the Holocaust is becoming a distant memory”

United Nations Israel Ambassador Gilad Erdan, second from left. (Photo: Israel's Mission to the United Nations)

The United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted an Israeli resolution that combats Holocaust denial on Thursday.

The resolution provides a specific definition of Holocaust denial put together by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. It also places responsibility on social media companies to remove Holocaust denying content and elaborates on actions expected to be taken by UN member states to address the phenomenon. 

The resolution was approved on Jan. 20 – the 80th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference during which the Nazis convened to approve the logistics of the Final Solution. Five Holocaust survivors as well Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, the son of Holocaust survivors, were invited to attend the historic session. 

“We now live in an era in which fiction is becoming fact and the Holocaust is becoming a distant memory,” said Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan. “As this happens, following the greatest crime in human history, now comes the greatest cover-up in human history. As the number of Holocaust survivors diminishes, Holocaust denial is growing at a terrifying speed.” 

It is the second time ever, that the UNGA passed a resolution put forward by the State of Israel. Germany asked to join the initiative as a “co-facilitator.” 

The resolution was approved by a consensus of 114 countries and without a vote. Iran, however, disassociated itself and voiced its opposition. The Islamic Republic was unable to call for a formal UN vote on the Israeli resolution since Tehran failed to pay its UN membership dues, and therefore faces certain restrictions. 

Iran’s UN representative claimed that the resolution marked an attempt by Israel “to exploit the suffering of Jewish people in the past as cover for the crimes it has perpetrated over the past seven decades against regional countries.”

In his remarks, Erdan alluded to Iran, whose leaders continuously question the Holocaust.

“Nations with seats in this hall openly deny the Holocaust, casting doubt on its occurrence and praising its perpetrators. Some have even run cartoon contests seeking the best cartoon mocking the Holocaust,” Erdan said. “In fact, those that most blatantly deny that Jews suffered a genocide are the ones now threatening Jews with another genocide!”

The classification of Holocaust denial or distortion according to the UNGA-approved resolution includes the following:  

1. Intentional efforts to excuse or minimize the impact of the Holocaust or its principal elements, including collaborators and allies of Nazi Germany

2. Gross minimization of the number of the victims of the Holocaust in contradiction to reliable sources

3. Attempts to blame the Jews for causing their own genocide

4. Statements that cast the Holocaust as a positive historical event

5. Attempts to blur the responsibility for the establishment of concentration and death camps devised and operated by Nazi Germany by putting blame on other nations or ethnic groups

Erdan initiated the resolution against a dramatic rise in anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in recent years, especially on social media.

A recent study by the Combat Antisemitism Movement revealed a concerning scope of another phenomenon, Holocaust trivialization related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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