On the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said “coordinated global action” was needed to combat the increase of neo-Nazism and white supremacy the world has seen since the coronavirus pandemic.
The international commemoration of the Holocaust takes place every year on January 27, the anniversary of the 1945 liberation of the concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Speaking at the annual Park East Synagogue and United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Service, Guterres said, “Propaganda linking Jews with the pandemic, for example, by accusing them of creating the virus as part of a bid for global domination, would be ridiculous, if it were not so dangerous,” he said, according to the AP.
“This is just the latest manifestation of an anti-Semitic trope that dates back to at least the 14th century, when Jews were accused of spreading the Bubonic plague,” he added.
Guterres said this dangerous and latest manifestation of anti-Semitism has been exacerbated by the spread of “propaganda and disinformation” through the growth of social media and must be seen be seen “in the context of a global attack on truth that has reduced the role of science and fact-based analysis in public life.”
Citing a study by the Claims Conference, Guterres noted that almost two-thirds of young Americans do not know that 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust. The 50-state study conducted in 2018 showed an alarming and distorted understanding of the Holocaust by those born since 1980.
Nearly two-thirds of US adults unaware 6m Jews killed in the Holocaust – study https://t.co/UAW1WzyjLD
— The Guardian (@guardian) September 16, 2020
Speaking at the event with Guterres was Rabbi Arthur Schneier, a 90-year old Holocaust survivor, who said, “Children are not born with hatred; they are taught how to hate. Holocaust education in schools is a must.”
To mark the day, Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum, will hold a number of online events and activities. The events include a virtual guided tour of the permanent exhibition “Shoah” located in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.
Yad Vashem has also uploaded “My Lost Childhood,” a new exhibit featuring seven children’s homes established after the end of World War II with survivor testimony.