International Leaders at Antisemitism Forum in Sweden Confront Distortion, Abuse of Holocaust
The use of social media to spread antisemitism was a key focus of Wednesday’s one-day high-level conference on Holocaust remembrance and combating antisemitism in the Swedish city of Malmo.
The conference, hosted by Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, heard from a range of international leaders, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Israeli President Isaac Herzog and French President Emmanuel Macron, all of whom sent video messages to the conference.
Kathrin Meyer, the secretary-general of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), told the meeting that “the mainstreaming of Holocaust distortion, often spread across borders via social media, is a serious challenge for us all globally as it paves the way for antisemitism, Holocaust denial and extreme nationalism.”
Holocaust distortion involves the appropriation of the language and imagery of the Holocaust to attack Jews or the State of Israel, or when politically aggrieved groups claim a comparable victimhood with the six million Jews exterminated by the Nazis.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of the “Judenstern” and other Holocaust symbols has been widespread by COVID-19 conspiracy theorists and vaccine refusers.
In his address to the conference, Blinken announced a $1 million State Department grant to counter antisemitic hate speech online in the Middle East and North Africa.
Blinken said that the US State Department had begun “an expanded series of international visitor leadership programs, which will work with government and civil society representatives to confront Holocaust distortion and antisemitism in North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America.”
Said Blinken: “Our priorities include condemning and countering antisemitism, ensuring physical security for Jewish communities, supporting Holocaust education, especially for young people, protecting religious freedom and urging countries to commit more deeply to the fight against hate speech online.”
European Council President Charles Michel said the 27-nation European Union “must lead the fight against antisemitism.”
“Remembering is not enough. That is why we must do more than remembering,” Michel said. “Silent we must never be … silence is complicity.”