Israel pushes UNGA to condemn Holocaust denial

Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan said that this resolution marked the first time in 17 years that the General Assembly was expected to approve an Israeli-authored text.

The main gate to Auschwitz with slogan 'Arbeit Macht Frei' (photo credit: PIKREPO)
The main gate to Auschwitz with slogan 'Arbeit Macht Frei'
(photo credit: PIKREPO)

Israel is pushing the UN General Assembly to condemn Holocaust denial by unanimously supporting a resolution that it authored.

It wants the GA to take a stand on Holocaust denial on January 20, the 80th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference, where the Nazi “Final Solution” was approved.

“The passing of this resolution is of great importance so that the shocking phenomenon of Holocaust denial becomes a redline in the international arena,” Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan told reporters on Wednesday.

The Israeli resolution “urges all member states to reject without any reservation any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, in either full or in part, or any activities to this end.” It asks “member states and social media companies to take active measures to combat antisemitism and Holocaust denial” through “information and communication technologies,” and to facilitate the “reporting of such content.”

The draft text also calls on the UN to develop programs to combat Holocaust denial.

 Ambassador Gilad Erdan at the UN General Assembly (credit: ISRAEL MISSION TO THE UN) Ambassador Gilad Erdan at the UN General Assembly (credit: ISRAEL MISSION TO THE UN)

Erdan said that this resolution marked the first time in 17 years, and only the second time in UN history, that the General Assembly was expected to approve an Israeli-authored text.

The first time it did so was in 2005, when the GA designated January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Erdan said.

Should a roll call vote be called, Erdan said he believes that the text would receive the support of 160 UN member states out of the 193 total.

Erdan said his office had been working on the initiative for the last year, and that the text had the support of both the United States and Germany. He noted that Holocaust denial and antisemitism have increased during the corona pandemic, and obviating the need for such a text.

“With every year that passes, the number of Holocaust survivors diminishes,” said Erdan. “These conditions, alongside the increasing way social media has come to dominate the conversation, have created a vile breeding ground for denial, lies and historical distortion regarding the Holocaust. These are critically dangerous trends, which this resolution aims to combat.”

UNGA resolutions do not have binding powers, he explained, but they carry weight as a collective global statement.

The draft text sets out a number of examples of denial when it comes to the genocide of six million Jews during World War II. 

This includes “intentional efforts to excuse or minimize the impact of the Holocaust,” and “gross minimization of the number of the victims of the Holocaust in contradiction to reliable sources.”

In addition, the draft text states, there is concern about “attempts to blame the Jews for causing their own genocide.”

Also of concern are “statements that cast the Holocaust as a positive historical event,” or suggest that the Holocaust “did not go far enough.”

Lastly, the resolution speaks out against “attempts to blur the responsibility for the establishment of concentration and death camps devised and operated by Nazi Germany by putting blame on other nations or ethnic groups.”