Bigotry ‘moving at lightning speed’ Guterres warns, as UN marks the Holocaust

UN Photo/Loey Felipe Secretary-General António Guterres addressing the annual United Nations Holocaust Remembrance Memorial Ceremony in the General Assembly Hall.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.

Amid an “alarming increase” in anti-Semitism, International Holocaust Remembrance Day was commemorated at UN Headquarters in New York on Monday, honouring the memory of some six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust during World War Two, along with many other victims of what the UN chief called “unprecedented, calculated cruelty and horror”.

“From a deadly assault on a synagogue in the United States to the desecration of Jewish cemeteries in Europe, this centuries-old hatred is not only still strong – it is getting worse” Secretary-General António Guterres said in his commemoration message, pointing to “the proliferation of neo-Nazi groups, and attempts to rewrite history and distort the facts of the Holocaust”.

As the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps recede in time, leaving fewer and fewer Holocaust survivors, the need to be vigilant grows stronger.

Under this year’s theme: “Holocaust Remembrance: Demand and Defend Your Human Rights”, youth are being encouraged to learn valuable lessons from the Holocaust, such as acting forcefully against discrimination and defending essential democratic values.

With neo-Nazism and hate groups on the rise, together with other forms of hatred around the world, the theme also highlights the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Mr. Guterres recalled the quote by former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, Jonathan Sacks: “The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews”.

“We see bigotry moving at lightning speed across the Internet”, underscored the UN chief, pointing to “intolerance entering mainstream politics – targeting minorities, Muslims, migrants and refugees, and exploiting the anger and anxiety of a changing world”.

“Now more than ever, let us unite in the fight for universal values and build a world of equality for all” concluded the Secretary-General.

As part of a week of commemorative activities, a ceremony on Monday in the General Assembly Hall featured first-hand testimony from survivors, memorial prayers, musical elements and a keynote address from Sara J. Bloomfield, Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, who after 18 years, continues working to raise Holocaust awareness, deepen the understanding of its hard-learned lessons, confront denial and advance genocide prevention.

The ceremony was hosted by Alison Smale, UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications. Danny Danon, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations; Jonathan R. Cohen, Chargé d’Affaires, United States Mission to the United Nations; and Ambassador Sandro De Bernardin, the Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, also delivered remarks.

From the Hall, Mr. Guterres drew attention to what he called “the worst anti-Semitic attack in the history of the United States, when 11 worshippers observing Shabbat in Pittsburgh were murdered at the Tree of Life synagogue last October. “We must rise up against rising anti-Semitism”, he stressed.

Bold action and education can turn the tide against rising anti-Semitism and racism – General Assembly President

In her remarks, General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa spoke directly to the survivors, saying she was deeply humbled and touched by their presence at today’s ceremony.

“Most of us in this room can never understand nor begin to realize the impact of that horror on your lives. Records and recordings, documentation and recollections, can never tell the full story of one of the worst tragedies in human history,” she said.

“We must draw lessons from history; this is why it is so vital that we remember the Holocaust and honour the victims of that  atrocity,” she declared, adding that she believed that only through remembrance and education could the hatred of others, the demonization of groups and the cynical manipulation of opinion that  promoted such hatred and violence, could be countered and stopped.

María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the seventy-third session of the General Assembly, makes remarks during the 2019 Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony.

Calling for bold, quick actions by world leaders to stand up against the rising tide of racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and intolerance in all its forms, she warned that with the bounds that had held the world together since World War II showing clear signs of fraying, “talking is not enough.”

“As leader, as citizens. As people of faith and of conscience we need to stand up for what we believe. Our survival as a modern civilization, based on the rule of law and human rights and respect for the dignity every individual depend upon it,” she said.

As part of a week of commemorative activities, a ceremony on Monday in the General Assembly Hall featured first-hand testimony from survivors, memorial prayers, musical elements and words from Sara J. Bloomfield, Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, who after 18 years, continues working to raise Holocaust awareness, deepen the understanding of its hard-learned lessons, confront denial and advance genocide prevention.

In other events, an exhibition called “Beyond Duty: Diplomats Recognized as Righteous Among the Nations”, shared the unique stories of the diplomats who, serving under Nazi regimes, saved Jewish lives by providing passports, visas and travel permits for their escape.

“Only through multilateral action and cooperation can we move closer to achieving a world of safety and dignity for all people, everywhere”, Mr. Guterres said at the launch.

A presentation on a lesser-known chapter from Holocaust’s history about the haven some Jewish refugees fleeing Europe found in India was scheduled as part of the day’s events, and a second exhibition of photographs called “Bracha. A Blessing. Back to Polish Shtetls”, was unveiled, documenting the journeys taken by Jewish descendants from Poland, back to their birthplaces, to pay homage to the culture and heritage they were forced to leave behind in the form synagogues, graveyards and the graves of Tzadikim, or “the righteous people”.

For a full list of events, please click here and for some useful historical background, go here.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Coronavirus spread now a global emergency declares World Health Organization

The multidisciplinary team facing the multidrug resistant form of Tuberculosis in the state of Amazonas (Brazil)

Crimean crisis: not enough to slow down European indices

Europe to turn the Hamburg G20 Summit into a battlefield

This is how oil spills damage our environment

Young people are key to defusing unrest and restoring public trust

China and China-EU Relations in the New Era

Germany: A grand coalition may trouble employers and bankers

RescEU: MEPs vote to upgrade EU civil protection capacity

GSMA announces first speakers for Mobile 360 Series-Middle East and North Africa

Digital learning can help us close the global education gap. This is how

Palm Oil: With Malaysia cracking down on production, what’s the alternative?

The Sahel is engulfed by violence. Climate change, food insecurity and extremists are largely to blame

Mood changes in Europe in favour of growth and jobs

The EU condemns Faroe Islands and Iceland to poverty

UN ready to rise above political fray and help Venezuelans based ‘on need, and need alone’

Why we need artists who strive for social change

It’s a frenzied clash between moderates and no-deal Brexiteers

Most leaders are missing this crucial character trait

Mental health and suicide prevention – What can be done to increase access to mental health services in my region?

How to maintain mental health in times of pandemic

Coronavirus: Commission launches data sharing platform for researchers

Eurozone dignitaries play with people’s life savings

The community and a decent working conditions for the young health workforce

MEPs back plans to promote water reuse for agricultural irrigation

World Cancer Day: Here’s how perceptions about the disease differ around the world

Which green actions really reduce climate emissions?

Why are wildfires getting worse?

WhatsApp to face scrutiny from EU regulators task force over data sharing with Facebook

European Agenda on Migration: Still fragile situation gives no cause for complacency

Growing a future free of terrorism: UN News special report from Cameroon

Aviation Safety: Commission adopts new EU Air Safety List

European Semester: The Winter Package explained

Vestager vs. Google: a fight to ensure a competitive innovation framework

Is Eurozone heading for disinflation?

3 ways to disrupt education and help bridge the skills gap

Conflict and climate change challenge sustainable development effort: UN report

Number of members in Parliament’s committees to change after Brexit

Coronavirus: rescEU medical materials dispatched to Serbia

Biodiversity: MEPs demand binding targets to protect wildlife and humans

Here’s how sustainability can make you stand out from the crowd

Banks and businesses must step up and work together to fight climate change

Britain and Germany change attitude towards the European Union

Doctors without borders

World Mental Health Day is a chance to listen to those with the condition – the biggest experts of all

The relationship between Dengue and the rainfall in Boa Vista, Brazil

Pesticides: MEPs propose blueprint to improve EU approval procedure

Data will allow us to predict the future if we let it. Here’s how

How to future-proof India’s economy

France sneaks into the Geneva US-Iran talks to claim its business share in Tehran

The US + Britain trivialize mainland Europe, NATO and the EU

Impact of high debt levels on least developed countries ‘cannot be overstated’, says UN

99 per cent of intravenous drug users lack access to health, ‘social services with dignity’ says UNAIDS chief

Is Germany yielding to pressures for more relaxed economic policies?

Pervasive corruption costs $2.6 trillion; disproportionately affects ‘poor and vulnerable’ says UN chief

EU budget: Reinforcing Europe’s cultural and creative sectors

Humanitarian aid: EU mobilises €22 million to support most vulnerable in Iran and Pakistan

Happy workers are more productive, research shows

Denmark’s last circus elephants are retiring – here’s what might take their place

Coronavirus Global Response: EU Humanitarian Air Bridge supports Venezuela

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: