Archive for the 'Holocaust' Category

UN Racism Expert Condemns Antisemitism – But It Is Not Enough

In his regular report (A/HRC/29/46) to the 29th session of the UN Human Rights Council on contemporary forms of racism, the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Mutuma Ruteere, focuses on the issue of racial profiling, which in his view affects primarily people of African descent and Middle Eastern origin. However, in his second report (A/HRC/29/47) that will be presented to the same HRC session, the Special Rapporteur addresses the issue of the resurgence of neo-Nazi ideologies.

Muslim and Jews, as well as the Roma communities are the minority groups suffering the most from stigmatization and violence in their respective countries, as pointed out by the Special Rapporteur. Political leaders have used the constant stigmatization of certain “vulnerable groups,” especially during austerity periods to justify “high unemployment rates, cuts in social benefits and increasing poverty.”

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UN Racism Expert Condemns Holocaust Denial

Unlike its discredited predecessor, the Human Rights Council has not passed one single resolution condemning antisemitism. (The Commission on Human Rights used to condemn antisemitism in 3 separate resolutions each year. Not much has changed since our 2004-2007 The United Nations and Anti-Semitism Report Card.)

Yet, in a recent welcome development, Mr. Mutuma Ruteere, the UN’s expert on racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance, had some tough words for antisemites across the world. In his most recent report, the expert dedicated an entire section to “Countering Holocaust denial and the distortion of History” and included another section outlining successful methods for combating neo-Nazis and skinheads.

In particular, the report explicitly defines and denounces modern Holocaust denial. The report defines Holocaust denial as 1) denying six million Jews were killed during the Second World War; 2) professing the Nazis had no official policy or intention to exterminate Jews; and 3) extermination and concentration camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau never existed.

The expert explains that while the Holocaust “is one of the well-documented events in recent history,” Holocaust denial is driven directly by antisemitism and as a tool for advancing the conspiracy of Jewish world domination. This antisemitism, the expert continues, also manifests in overtly antisemitic events and actions such as a full military funeral of an SS officer, a celebration of a Nazi military victory, and the promotion of antisemitic views by a comedian [alluding to French “comedian” Dieudonne] and other public personalities.
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UN seminar on Holocaust remembrance


High Commissioner Navi Pillay discussing with Prof. Dan Michman

For the first time, a seminar took place today at the Palais des Nation on the occasion of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust. The seminar was organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, with the support of the Permanent Missions of Israel and Canada.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay delivered opening remarks. In her speech, she focused on the story of Petr Ginz, a young Jewish boy from Prague who was killed in the Auschwitz gas chambers. The text of her speech that was circulated also featured a picture of Petr, the first time that any photo has been added to a speech by the High Commissioner. After her remarks, the High Commissioner called for a minute of silence.

The first speak was Prof Dan Michman, Chief Historian of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Museum. Prof Michman discussed the topic of how the Nazis were able to exterminate 6,000,000 Jews and numerous others, their motivations and the means they used. He referred to modern antisemitism as a main driving force and ended his remarks by stressing the importance of education and legislation.

The second speaker was Karolina Mirga of the Ternype International Roma Youth Network who discussed the issues around the Roma killed during the Second World War and the efforts of her group to keep the memory alive, educate young people and remember the people who perished during that dark period.

The last speaker was Mario Silva, the Canadian chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance, an intergovernmental organization charged with promoting remembrance, education and research on the Holocaust. He spoke of the different activities of the organization and the important role they play, bringing together governments, academics and civil society.

Mr Silva quoted the words of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that “…we must resist the error of viewing the Holocaust as a strictly historical event.  It’s not good enough for politicians to stand before you and say they remember and mourn what happened over six decades ago…they must be unequivocal in their condemnation of anti-Semitic despots, terrorists and fanatics.  That is the only way to honour the memory of those who were consumed by the Holocaust.”

The seminar concluded by representatives from different countries taking the floor to reflect about the events of the Holocaust and the universal lessons it brings us, in terms of prevention and protection.

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