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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 
worse still."

   "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 
COVID-19 pandemic.

   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 
Colleyville, Texas.

   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 

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