International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Benjy Cannon
on January 27, 2016

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This International Holocaust Remembrance Day is one of both sadness and hope. On the one hand, I’m deeply concerned by the anti-Semitism creeping back into Europe. In France and Germany, Jews are again subjected to horrific hate crimes. Elsewhere in Europe, Jews and other minorities must constantly confront a culture of fear and intimidation. The memory of the Holocaust should compel Europe, the United States and the world to take a sober look at this rising tide of hatred and xenophobia, and work tirelessly to prevent a tragic repeat of history.

I’m also, however, comforted by the world leaders who are rising to the challenge. Today, President Obama is marking Holocaust Remembrance Day with a rare appearance at the Israeli embassy. He is awarding posthumous recognition to Sergeant Robbie Edwards as a “Righteous Among the Nations” on behalf of Yad Vashem — an honor that recognizes non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for “intensive action” to combat anti-Semitism in Germany. French President Francois Hollande has laid out an extensive plan to tackle anti-Semitism in France.

Despite the work of these leaders and tireless and dedicated activists of all stripes, racism, xenophobia and oppression are still potent forces across the globe. Recognizing the steps the world has taken to learn the lessons of the Holocaust is important, but so too is acknowledging the work that still lies ahead.