(Brussels, Wednesday, January 25, 2023) – On the 78th anniversary of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, European Jewish Congress (EJC) president, Dr. Ariel Muzicant expressed his deep concern that the critical lessons of the Holocaust are being forgotten.
“In today’s dangerous political climate, where uncertainty and despair cloud our horizon, we need to continue fighting against those that threaten democracy and human rights,” Dr. Muzicant said. “We must not lose our determination to fight these force, because if we refuse to fight, hatred and intolerance will prevail.”
“This year, as we also mark the 80th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, those heroes and their ultimate sacrifice, must be an inspiration to us all. Their legacy directs us to continue the fight against those who once again are challenging our societies with their discrimination, racism and antisemitism.”
At an event organised by the EJC last night, over 400 people, including senior EU officials, MEPs from across the political spectrum, ambassadors and civil society leaders gathered to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, pledge to fight antisemitism and honour the memory of Simone Veil, a former French Minister of Health and the first President of the European Parliament, and also a Holocaust survivor who was a moral voice of her generation and a campaigner for civil liberties.
“As we look back in time, we have to remind ourselves to never forget about what happened all these years ago, to honour those who suffered and to prevent such terrible crimes from ever happening again,” said Vice President of the European Parliament and Chair of the Working Group against Antisemitism Nicola Beer. “Sadly, in today’s world, we still have to fight against antisemitism and religious discrimination, but I am determined that it is a fight worth fighting.”
“What we can do, however, is celebrate occasions such as Holocaust Remembrance Week, we can celebrate and honour people like Simone Veil, we can fight the fight together. Every single person in this room can do something, speak up, create awareness, fight for justice, and not ignore what should be blatantly obvious to everyone- making people feel unwelcome or inadequate due to their religion, their beliefs, their appearance or any other criteria is not only heartless, it is inacceptable.”
During his remarks, French philosopher, filmmaker and playwright Bernard-Henri Lévy spoke about his feelings on the current state of antisemitism, intolerance and discrimination.
“I’m pessimistic and optimistic. Of course, antisemitism has not disappeared and certainly reinvents itself, because now it’s all about Israel,” Lévy said. “In this sense, I see the way the devil reincarnates itself at every step of our history. However, I’m also optimistic because there are strong forces of resistance against it, being led by Jewish organizations, like the EJC, which holds firm and delivers on its pledge to fight antisemitism. This didn’t exist 40 years ago.”
“There is a pride, a self-affirmation and a calm about the new way of being a Jew today, especially when I think how undefended the Jews were when I was a teenager, when we had no weapons, and many were even ashamed of being a Jew. When you are ashamed and shy, and you don’t dare to accept your identity, you are vulnerable.”