Jewish leaders and supporters of Israel say this year’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a time to not only remember the victims of the Nazi genocide but also to fight antisemitism in a post-Oct. 7 world that has grown more hostile to the Jewish people.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is held annually on Jan. 27, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. It falls on Saturday this year.
Some 6 million Jewish people died at the hands of the Nazis during the Holocaust.
“As we are witnessing an alarming rise of antisemitism around the globe, it is more important than ever for us to recognize the critical lessons of Holocaust history as we commemorate the victims and honor the survivors,” the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum said in a statement.
Mark Weitzman, the chief operating officer of the World Jewish Restitution Organization, said Oct. 7 was a major event in Jewish history. The terrorist group Hamas attacked Israel that day, killing some 1,200 and taking more than 200 hostage.
“Since the Holocaust 80 years ago, we haven't faced anything like this, like we're facing today,” Weitzman said in an interview with the American Jewish Committee.
Referencing the United States, he added, “Jews are in an unprecedented situation in this country in terms of antisemitism.”
“I think there are clear connections between people who are downplaying or distorting the events of Oct. 7,” he said, “and those that engage in Holocaust distortion or hardcore Holocaust denial, because both are linked by an attempt to try to explain what is for them an uncomfortable historical reality that targeted Jews, whether the Holocaust or the events of Oct. 7, to justify their preconceived political agenda, which often includes an antisemitic conspiracy theory, either as its base or as its method to achieve their goals.”
College campuses in the U.S. have been a hotbed of antisemitism. Elizabeth Zhorov, vice president of Northeastern Hillel (Boston) and a student at Northeastern University, said International Holocaust Remembrance Day “has more meaning than ever.”
“It’s important to realize that there’s no room for this kind of hate for anyone ever again,” Zhorov told Northeastern Global News. “It’s important to educate ourselves and remember parts of history like that so we don’t repeat the past. It’s important now more than ever, especially with the rise in hate crimes all over the world, and how people are genuinely being affected by it now.”
Columnist Robert Scott Kellner, writing in a Jerusalem Post opinion piece, asserted that the same hatred that drove the Nazis still exists today.
“As we commemorate the victims of the Nazis, we must be honest about the role of those in the Islamic world who openly threaten Israel and Jews with a second Holocaust,” Kellner wrote. “The frightening difference this time is that concentration camps won’t have to be built, and railroad cars won’t be needed, because today’s enemies of the Jewish people plan to drop a nuclear bomb on Israel, where the next six million Jewish victims are already in place.”
Image credit: ©Getty Images/Stefaan Maes
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.