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On January 27th, we join the international community in commemorating the International Holocaust Remembrance Day; a day when we recall the darkest time in human history when one civilian group was targeted by another for complete destruction.
It is a day that people all around the world stand in unity to remember the horrors of Shoah – Holocaust – to ensure that these atrocities are not forgotten and never happen again.
Cambodia is joining hands with nations around the world which decided to take strong action in combating the global worrying phenomenon of Holocaust Denial by supporting a UN resolution, proposed by Israel, on "Holocaust Denial". The resolution, unanimously adopted on January 20th this year, will be the new international standard to fight against the Holocaust denial through promoting education.
This year marks 80 years since the Wannsee Conference, in which the so-called “Final Solution of the Jewish Question” was discussed and coordinated. This meeting resulted in the establishment of the Nazi death camps, where the Jewish population was systematically murdered through infamous barbaric means, including the deadly gas chambers. However, the Nazi’s extermination campaign began much earlier, in the early 1930s, when discrimination and dehumanization against the Jewish people were gradually formulated, escalating from the social and economic displacement, to discriminatory racial legislation, administrative harassment, and finally, to the state-sponsored annihilation campaign against the Jewish people.
For many, rebuilding a life after this most horrific experience was daunting. The psychological trauma of the Holocaust did not end with the end of the war.
My grandmother, who perished in the Holocaust, was forced to give her own daughter to another person in an exchange of her child's life. My mother, a Holocaust survivor, was therefore deprived of a life with her own family and was unaware of her true family story until she was over 60 years old. As a descendent of a Holocaust survivor, this trauma shaped my childhood. For many, the end is even grimmer, as these children grew up without knowing their true identity and are therefore lost from their Jewish community.
Nearly eight decades have passed, and memories of the Holocaust are fading. Unfortunately, the world is witnessing an increase of hate crimes that put all of us in danger of facing discrimination, bigotry, racism and prejudice. The racism and xenophobia, which have been thriving recently, especially amidst the deadly pandemic, resulted with a new surge of anti-Semitic attacks, particularly in North America and Europe. To counter the rise of discrimination and racism, it is of great importance to share the truth of our tragic history, and the great depths this behavior may lead to, with each new generation.
Reaching young audience has always been a challenge for historians and educators. However, now we all have access to social media platforms, which have the power and ability to reach a large audience like no other platform before. Unfortunately, these platforms are also used by those who are circulating false information, and enhance hatred and anti-Semitism. Thus, we should all use our access to the new media and utilize a healthy online approach that can help ensure that the atrocities will not repeat, and deliver such messages to children and young adults.
Last but not least, the social media companies must have comprehensive measures to contain the online hate speech contents, before it develops into physical hate crimes. Consequently, we can keep the memory and dignity of Holocaust victims to our future generations, and ensure the Holocaust will never happen again.
Ms. Orna Sagiv is Ambassador (designate) of Israel to Cambodia & Thailand.