UN Chief Decries Antisemitism 01/26 06:05
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Secretary-General Antonio Guterres decried the
resurgence of antisemitism in comments Tuesday night at a service commemorating
victims of the Nazi Holocaust, and he urged people around the world to "stand
firm against hate and bigotry anywhere and everywhere."
The U.N. chief said he was alarmed to learn recently that barely half of
adults worldwide have heard of the Holocaust, which saw the murder of 6 million
Jews, comprising one-third of the Jewish people, and millions of others during
World War II. He said the lack of knowledge among the younger generations "is
"Our response to ignorance must be education," Guterres said. "Governments
everywhere have a responsibility to teach about the horrors of the Holocaust."
He spoke at the United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Service
at Park East Synagogue on the eve of the International Day of Commemoration in
Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, which was held virtually because of the
The U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution in November 2005 establishing
the annual commemoration and chose Jan. 27, the day the Nazi concentration camp
at Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by troops from the Soviet Union in 1945.
Guterres said the rise in antisemitism -- "the oldest form of hate and
prejudice" -- has seen new reports of physical attacks, verbal abuse, the
desecration of Jewish cemeteries, synagogues vandalized, and last week the
hostage-taking of the rabbi and members of Beth Israel Congregation in
Around the world, Guterres said, Jewish boys are warned not to wear a kippa,
the skullcap worn by observant Jews, in public "for fear of being assaulted,"
and there are conspiracy theories devolving into "heinous antisemitic tropes"
and "deeply disturbing attempts to deny, distort or minimize the Holocaust,"
especially on the internet.
He welcomed the Jan. 20 adoption by the 193-member U.N. General Assembly of
a resolution condemning a denial of the Holocaust and urging all nations and
social media companies "to take active measures to combat antisemitism and
Holocaust denial or distortion."
Rabbi Arthur Schneier, a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor and Park East
Synagogue's senior rabbi whose family perished in the crematorium of Auschwitz,
spoke of witnessing the burning of his synagogue in Vienna, his birthplace, on
Kristellnacht -- Nov. 9, 1938. It was the beginning of the Holocaust, the night
Hitler and his henchmen destroyed every temple in Germany and Austria.
Schneier said "hate mongers" always target houses of worship, saying the
perpetrator of last week's hostage-taking in Texas flew from England "to commit
this vicious attack." The hostages managed to escape and 44-year-old Malik
Faisal Akram, who had ranted against Jews, was killed by police.
Schneier said his hopes and dreams that no other people would have to suffer
the atrocities perpetrated on the Jews have been "shattered by persistent
antisemitism, xenophobia, racism, all forms of hatred and Holocaust denial."
This has been exacerbated today "by societal upheaval, social media, and
pandemic conspiracy theories" as well as "camouflaged anti-Zionism, which is
really also a manifestation of antisemitism."
Schneier said he was forced to wear a yellow star "to be marked for
dehumanization and death" by the Nazis. "For anyone to wear a yellow star after
1945 is not ignorance, it is a sign of vicious hatred," he said, pointing to
opponents of coronavirus vaccinations who showed up at municipal meetings in
Kansas wearing yellow stars, "equating themselves with victims of the
"Distorted Holocaust analogies can only be countered through education," the
rabbi said. "Children are born to love, and they are taught how to hate. They
must be guided not just to tolerate `others' but to respect and accept your