By JAN M. OLSEN
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — A one-day conference starting Wednesday will focus on the receding memory of the Holocaust as Sweden marks the 20th anniversary of a conference on remembering the genocide, with participants focusing on how social media is contributing to a rise in antisemitism.
“There is a dangerous rise of antisemitism all over the world mainly because of the new social media,” said Nachman Shai, Israel’s diaspora affairs minister, upon arrival at the International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance in Malmo, southern Sweden.
The media are “inciting and increasing the level of hate, and they have to take responsibility for that not to remain so-called neutral or objective,” Shai said.
The German European Affairs Minister Michael Roth called the situation “extremely worrying,” in reference to recent anti-Jewish attacks in Germany.
“Remembering is not enough. That is why we must do more than remembering,” European Council President Charles Michel said. “Silent we must never be … silence is complicity.” He said the European Union “must led the fight against anti-Semitism.”
Concrete steps are expected to be announced during the conference with Kathrin Meyer, secretary general of the Berlin-based International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance saying before the event that “the mainstreaming of Holocaust distortion, often spread across borders via social media, is a serious challenge for us all globally as it paves the way for antisemitism, Holocaust denial and extreme nationalism.”
In a prerecorded video message, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was allocating $1 million to counter antisemitic hate speech online in the Middle East and North Africa, and has started “an expanded series of international visitor leadership programs, which will work with government and civil society representatives to confront Holocaust distortion and antisemitism in North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America.”
“Our priorities include condemning and countering antisemitism, ensuring physical security for Jewish communities, supporting Holocaust education, especially for young people, protecting religious freedom and urging countries to commit more deeply to the fight against hate speech online,” Blinken said.
The forum comes after the first one was held in Stockholm in 2000. International leaders then urged all countries to open secret government files on the Nazi extermination campaign and promote education about the genocide. The final statement at the end of the three-day event included a pledge to take all necessary steps to open archives to “ensure that all documents bearing on the Holocaust are available to researchers.”
The one-day event, held in Sweden’s third-largest city, was initially planned for October 2020 but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was postponed for a year.
High-profile protagonists like Presidents Isaac Herzog of Israel and Emmanuel Macron of France participated remotely, with the latter addressing the assembly in prerecorded video message.
Only Finland, Latvia, Serbia and North Macedonia sent presidents and Ukraine, Albania and Estonia their prime ministers. From neighboring Denmark came Justice Minister Nick Haekkerup and Norway — the other Scandinavian neighbor — sent an ambassador.
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