World leaders called for further measures to tackle antisemitism and Holocaust denial yesterday at the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism.
Swedish Prime Minister Löfven spoke of previous milestones in the fight against antisemitism, naming the Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust of January 2000, which led to the creation of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and the 2020 IHRA Ministerial Declaration as important moments. “We are not looking for another declaration, we are looking to translate these principles of these documents into reality,” the Prime Minister said.
He continued: “I have therefore encouraged delegations that are representative here in Malmö today to present concrete measures to promote Holocaust remembrance and to combat antisemitism, anti-Gypsism and other forms of racism.”
Antisemitism is currently present in “extreme right-wing groups, parts of the Left, in Islamist environments and among ordinary citizens,” Prime Minister Löfven said, and said that it was also present “among adults and children who fled to Europe from countries where hatred of Jews is promoted in schools and through state-propaganda.”
Israeli President Isaac Herzog spoke of online antisemitism and the danger of violent attacks from extremists. He said: “We have witnessed thousands of antisemitic assaults, vandalism and threats from extremists all over, including in Malmö. This rise in antisemitic attacks on the streets, the physical attacks and assaults and verbal assaults, offensive articles and increasing intimidation on the web have been fueled, in large part, by the explosion of antisemitic incitement online.”
The President added that tackling antisemitism necessitates “working aggressively on social media, including with and confronting social media companies to ensure that hateful incitement is quickly removed,” while also adding that legislation, litigation, adjudication and law enforcement were also necessary tools in the fight against antisemitism.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who spoke out against antisemitism in Canada earlier this year during the conflict between Israel and Hamas, said that “we’ve seen so many different radical extremist groups of various types lashing out at so many different things, but one of the few, common things that so many of them have is an acceptance of antisemitic stereotypes and tropes that slip into their discourse, and that they build on so much of their other hatred on [sic].”
The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, who earlier this summer condemned antisemitism in a historic address, said that “each time someone denies the Shoah, each time an antisemitic act is committed, each time that a grave is desecrated, each time our memory is trampled on, it’s our shared humanity that is threatened.”
Ursula Von Der Leyen, President of the European Commission, spoke of how the threat of antisemitism still exists for Jewish people, adding that it is also a “poison for our democracies, our values, and our open societies.” She continued: “We have to fight it, offline and online, and hate speech, disinformation and the denial of facts are everywhere online.”
The United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is Jewish himself and was recently urged by a group of 70 Jewish officials from the United States Department of State to fire an “openly antisemitic” employee, delivered a statement at the conference in a recorded video in which he stated that the United States is “committed to remembrance and to fighting antisemitism, Holocaust denial, and hate in all of its modern forms.” He added that “The dangers of the Holocaust are not simply problems of the past..antisemitism is on the rise in many parts of the world.”
Secretary Blinken continued by outlining the steps that the United States has taken towards fighting antisemitism, which included pledging $1 million to counter antisemitic hate speech “online, in the Middle East, and North Africa”. He also stated that the United States was starting an expanded series of international visitor leadership programmes” which will work with “government and civil society representatives to confront Holocaust distortion and antisemitism in North Africa, Middle East, Europe, and Latin America.” The Secretary of State said that through working with congress, another $1 million will be given to tackle Holocaust denial in central Europe.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg also spoke at the event, saying that “At Facebook, we stand against hate of all kinds. We are working with governments and NGOs to fulfill the promise of ‘never again’.”