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January 18, 2022 4:39 pm

United Nations Set to Vote on Israeli Resolution Against Online Holocaust Denial

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan addressing the October 29, 2021 special session of the United Nations General Assembly. Photo: Permanent Mission of Israel to the UN

The United Nations General Assembly is expected to vote this Thursday on an Israeli resolution that seeks to define and counteract Holocaust denial on social media.

The measure was submitted by Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan and will be brought to a vote on the 80-year anniversary of the Wannsee Conference, when senior Nazi leaders met to discuss the systematic annihilation of Jews in Europe, known as the “Final Solution.”

“If this historic resolution passes, it will, for the first time, provide practical tools for combating this dangerous phenomenon,” stated Erdan ahead of the vote. “This will be the first time that the UN General Assembly will explicitly require internet giants to take responsibility for the hatred and incitement spread on their platforms.”

“Anyone who denies or distorts the atrocities that took place in the Holocaust for Jews is complicit in spreading hatred and legitimizing attacks against Jews, as we have seen this past weekend in Texas,” he added, in reference to a gunman who entered a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, and took four people hostage on Jan. 15.

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The resolution draws on the widely-adopted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism to identify Holocaust denial, and calls on UN member states to combat the phenomenon, especially on online platforms.

It also places responsibility on social media giants, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, to remove hateful content from their platforms, while urging countries to develop and implement Holocaust education programs. UN bodies, in turn, are given guidance to formulate programs against Holocaust denial, and to promote Holocaust remembrance in collaboration with civil society.

“The frightening rise of antisemitic attacks and Holocaust denial obliges all the leaders of UN member states and of the UN itself to not only speak but also to act,” Erdan argued. “If no immediate action is taken, we might see other terrible attacks committed against Jews.”

In recent months, the Israeli ambassador engaged officials from other UN member states to rally support for the initiative.

If adopted, it will mark the second time that the General Assembly supports an Israeli resolution, following the passage in 2005 of a measure to designate Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Social media companies have come under increased pressure to address the proliferation of hateful content on their platforms. Late last month, European parliamentarians knocked Facebook for its “reactivity” to antisemitic content like Holocaust denial, saying only 11 percent of the posts they reported were eventually taken down.

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