The 7th Global Forum to Combat Antisemitism, held virtually and in person in Jerusalem from 14–15 July 2021, saw interventions by former IHRA Chair Ambassador Michaela Küchler, as well as a number of IHRA delegates from around the world. Following a keynote speech by Professor Deborah Lipstadt of Emory University, speakers covered a wide range of topics related to the fight against antisemitism, including the impact of education and research, combatting this form of hate online, and addressing it in football stadiums.
Speaking on tools to combat Holocaust denial and distortion, Robert Williams of the United States delegation to the IHRA discussed the importance of this effort. “Allowing for or excusing Holocaust distortion erodes our understanding of the Holocaust,” he said. “It is a moral insult to the memories of the victims and the survivors. Finally, it can act as a gateway drug, if you will, to conspiracy theory, Holocaust denial, and more dangerous forms of antisemitism.” He pointed to the IHRA’s Recognizing and Countering Holocaust Distortion: Recommendations for Policy and Decision Makers as a useful tool to help guide organizations and governments approach this issue.
Canadian Head of Delegation Irwin Cotler emphasized during his intervention that “antisemitism was an assault on the most fundamental of our rights: the right to life, liberty, and security of the person, the right to religion, conscience and belief, and the right to equal protection under the law.” The IHRA’s work and its practical tools provide a useful framework with which policy and decision makers from diverse fields could address this issue and its deleterious effects on democracy.
Former IHRA Chair and Head of the German Delegation to the IHRA Michaela Küchler spoke on the IHRA’s working definitions—of Holocaust denial and distortion, of antisemitism, and of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination. “The IHRA’s working definitions are practical tools,” she said. “But their real impact is in their empowering effect. In how their foster a world in which antisemitism, Holocaust denial and distortion, and anti-Roma discrimination have no place. In how they lay the foundation for a world which remembers the Holocaust, for a world without genocide.”
Action items on the points covered will be summarized and loaded onto the Global Forum’s online platform in the coming weeks.