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January 20, 2022 3:18 pm

‘No One Will Erase Our Past’: UN Adopts Israeli Resolution to Fight Holocaust Denial and Distortion

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan and a group of Holocaust survivors pose with a copy of the resolution at the UN General Assembly. Photo: Israel’s MIssion to the UN

The United Nations on Thursday passed an Israeli resolution that defines Holocaust denial or its distortion, and urges member states to counteract the phenomenon on social media.

The resolution, submitted by Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan and co-facilitated by Germany, was adopted by consensus by the 193-member General Assembly, with only Iran objecting and “disassociating” itself from the measure. There was no actual country-by-country vote, but more than 100 member states declared themselves co-sponsors.

Its passage marked just the second time that the General Assembly (UNGA) supported an Israeli resolution, since a 2005 measure to designate Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“We now live in an era in which fiction is becoming fact and the Holocaust is becoming a distant memory,” Erdan, a grandson of Holocaust victims, stated at the UNGA. “Holocaust denial has spread like a cancer. As the number of Holocaust survivors dwindles, the younger generations are being indoctrinated on social media to doubt reality and trust deception.”

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“Yet while this resolution preserves the memory of the six million victims of the past, its goal is to also protect the victims of the future,” Erdan affirmed.

The resolution draws on the widely-adopted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism to identify Holocaust denial. It calls on member states to “reject without any reservation any denial or distortion of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, or any activities to this end,” and classifies “Holocaust denial in its various forms is an expression of antisemitism.”

It also urges UN member states to combat the phenomenon, especially on online platforms. UN bodies are given guidance to formulate programs against Holocaust denial, and to promote Holocaust remembrance in collaboration with civil society.

Erdan said that “while the internet turns into a vile breeding ground of deceit, social media platforms are shirking their responsibility.”

“Despite their importance, these platforms do little to combat this sick phenomenon. Social media giants can no longer remain complacent to the hate spread on their platforms,” he demanded.

In a joint statement, Israel Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock expressed concern about the dramatic rise in the manifestations of Holocaust denial, the distortion and revisionism of the Holocaust, and comparisons being made between current political disputes and the Holocaust.

“Such comparisons are a perversion of history and an injustice to the men, women and children who were deprived of their rights, persecuted and murdered. These comparisons are a form of antisemitism,” the joint statement read. “They sow the seeds of prejudice and hatred, ultimately threatening our societies.”

“We carry an obligation to remember, to learn and to challenge the growth of Holocaust revisionism, denial and distortion both on and offline,” Lapid and Baerbock stated.

During his speech at the UNGA, Erdan acknowledged the presence in the audience of a group of Holocaust survivors as well as Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, a child of Holocaust survivors.

“No one will erase our stories. No one will erase our past. No one will distort our history,” he pledged. “We will never let this happen.”

The resolution was warmly welcomed by global Jewish groups, including B’nai B’rith International, whose leaders pointed to “a clear correlation between denial of the atrocities of the Holocaust and indifference or incitement to atrocities committed against Jews today.”

The group was also among those harshly condemning Iran’s opposition to the measure, which Tehran’s representative cast as an attempt to “exploit” the suffering of Jews.

Others noted that the vote came days after a gunman attacked a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, convinced that taking Jews hostage could help secure the release of a convicted terrorist.

“It​ is vital to commit additional resources to better secure our facilities and fight the age-old scourge of antisemitism, especially when it appears in the form of online conspiracy theories, which can originate anywhere and spread like wildfire from keyboard to keyboard,” commented leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

The resolution was adopted on the 80th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference, when senior Nazi leaders met to discuss the systematic annihilation of Jews in Europe, known as the “Final Solution.”

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