January 28, 2019, marked the beginning of Holocaust Remembrance week at the United Nations. Speakers at the UN Holocaust Memorial Ceremony — “Holocaust Remembrance: Demand and Defend Your Human Rights” — all agreed that the lessons of the Holocaust must not be forgotten, and that Holocaust education is essential.
But were their words representative of the deeds of this international body? Sadly, they were not.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres elegantly made the case for curbing hate, racism, and rising antisemitism. As he correctly pointed out, “Hate is moving into the mainstream, the demonization of others rages on. It is our duty to fight hate speech which leads to hate crimes.” He emphasized that this must happen in the schools and that education is crucial. Yet hate-filled education continues to be provided to Palestinian children by UNRWA — an agency of the UN — making the UN complicit in this travesty. This must be corrected.
During the event, Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, president of the 73rd-session of the UN General Assembly, reminded the audience that the UN was born out of the ashes of World War II to stop hatred and demonization of the “other.” She then added that we will never root out all the evils that led to the Holocaust, but that we can contain them by our actions — and said that we must “provide education that emphasizes citizenship and respect of the other.”