Task force aims at stopping 2nd Shoah

Int'l body stresses education, legislation to fight anti-Semitism.

By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
August 27, 2010 04:45
2 minute read.
Jews being rounded up by Nazis during the Holocaus

holocaust 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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BERLIN – “The idea is to learn from the first one [Holocaust] so the second one will not be able to exist,” Dan Tichon, chairman of the International Holocaust Task Force and a former speaker of the Knesset, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday, in a wide ranging interview about combating Holocaust denial and modern anti-Semitism.

Tichon and former ambassador to Jordan Jacob Rosen, the coordinator of the Task Force (Israel holds its rotating chairmanship for 2010), are in Berlin for two and half days to prepare for a Task Force meeting in Jerusalem in October and a plenary meeting slated for Haifa in December to involve 350 people.

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The Task Force, which has 27 countries as members, with a further seven liaison or observer states, has its headquarters in Berlin; a kind of symbolic presence because Berlin was the organizational center of Nazi Germany’s effort to exterminate European Jewry.

The Task Force is the brainchild of former Swedish prime minister, Göran Persson who triggered an initiative in 1998 to expand Holocaust education in Sweden. Persson and US president Bill Clinton then helped to expand Shoah education as a global project. In 2000, a group of governments issued the “Stockholm Declaration,” which formed the basis for the Task Force. Its full name is the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research.

Tichon said there are three major forms of global anti- Semitism. The first manifestation is from “extremists, most of them from the Left.”

The second and third expressions are “Muslims in Europe, especially the second generation,” and fanatical Islamists such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who “will adopt a new policy: What Hitler did not finish, we will finish.”

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There is a “contradiction” between the “growing awareness” of the Shoah thanks to memorial and educational institutions such as Yad Vashem and the rising anti- Semitism across the globe, Tichon said.

Rosen said that “education is not enough. We need other steps and the role of the political situation is more important.”

He suggested legislative action such as hate crime laws; training law enforcement personnel to identify hate-based crimes; and collecting data on outbreaks of anti-Semitic incidents from various nations. “Many countries are afraid to report incidents,” he said.

Rosen highlighted the complex and tricky process of “blocking hostile Web sites” because of free speech laws.

Holocaust denial, which is outlawed in many European countries, and genocidal anti-Semitism are widespread phenomena on the World Wide Web.

The growing trend among European academics, journalists and government officials to compare Islamophobia with anti-Semitism, is “ridiculous,” Tichon said.

Rosen, who was born in Poland and speaks fluent Arabic and Polish, said the comparison “trivializes and the minimizes the Holocaust.”

His mother survived Auschwitz.

Tichon and Rosen both view the parallel being drawn between bias against Muslims in Europe and anti-Semitism as a dangerous equation.

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