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Holocaust Commemoration Held at the United Nations

The Commemoration focused on the importance of teaching the youth about the lessons of the Holocaust so that future generations may work to end racism, prejudices, and hatred.

By Kylie Dangerfield

The United Nations Department of Public Information’s “Holocaust and United Nations Outreach Program” has been doing its part to educate the world on the lessons that can be learned from the Holocaust and the relevance it still holds today. Through Resolution 60/7, the United Nations has taken many steps to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust and ensure that such genocides will not be able to take place in the future.

On May 14-18, the United Nations teamed up with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum to organize a seminar on “The History of the Holocaust: Confronting Hatred, Preventing Genocide and Cultivating Moral Responsibility”. Developed by the Museum’s National Institute for Holocaust Education, the seminar discussed the conditions that led to the Holocaust and significance it holds today. The participants were given a historical background during the rise of the Nazi regime and the context in which the Holocaust was able to occur.  The important lessons that were explored in the seminar included the necessity for tolerance of others and each community’s duty to protect human rights and maintain human dignity.

To help remember the tragedies of the Holocaust, the United Nations designated January 27 as the annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, authorized by Resolution 60/7. Last year this day was commemorated at the United Nations by a meeting that featured four panelists who spoke about the Holocaust and a need for understanding and tolerance: Raymond Sommereyns of the U.N. Department of Public Information; Sister Joan Kirby of the U.N. NGO Executive Committee; Ambassador Dan Gillerman, Permanent Representative of Israel to the U.N.; and Professor Judea Pearl from UC- Berkeley.

The messages from Ambassador Gillerman included appreciation for the commemoration and its importance during the present-day times of rising terrorism. This was reinforced by words from Judea Pearl. Judea Pearl is the father of the late journalist Daniel Pearl who was kidnapped, tortured, and beheaded by extremists in Pakistan in 2002. Himself the grandson of two Holocaust victims, Pearl’s goal was to spread a message of tolerance and understanding. In 2003 Pearl, established the Daniel Pearl Foundation to promote cross cultural understanding through journalism, music, and dialogue. To help combat growing intolerance in America, the foundation funds a Muslim journalist each year to work in a U.S newsroom to help encourage mutual understanding. Ψ

The 2007 commemoration was held January 29th  in the General Assembly Hall at United Nations Headquarters. Speakers for the commemoration included Sheikha Hava Rashed Al Khalifa, President of the sixty-first session of the General Assembly, Ambassador Dan Gillerman, and Madame Simone Veil, a Holocaust survivor, President of the Foundation Pour la Mémoire de la Shoah, and member of the Constitutional Council of France.

The Commemoration focused on the importance of teaching the youth about the lessons of the Holocaust so that future generations may work to end racism, prejudices, and hatred. During the meeting, a new website “Electronic Notes for Speakers” was launched for United Nations Member States, educators and non-governmental organizations. Developed for the “Holocaust and the United Nations” outreach programme, the site contains survivor testimonies and information that will provide speakers with the tools needed to conduct briefings on the Holocaust and the lessons that can be learned from it. For more information, including web casts of the events, please visit the site. Ψ