January 26, 2024 — New York
Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, one of the world’s leading experts on Holocaust denial, today lamented the ‘“tidal wave of antisemitism” since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas and expressed shock at the numerous attempts to deny the atrocities committed during the terror attack.
“I don’t shock easily… I don’t surprise easily, but I am shocked at the speed of the denialism taking place,” Amb. Lipstadt told American Jewish Committee (AJC) lay leaders and diplomats from more than 30 nations. “How we get to those people who are impacted by it is a complicated but important issue.”
Reminding the audience that the Holocaust was “a testament to the catastrophic consequences of unchecked hatred,” Amb. Lipstadt added that “a Holocaust denier is denying the best-documented genocide in the world. The people I am trying to reach are those who might be impacted by it, the people on the periphery who might go either way … to lay the facts before them.”
Amb. Lipstadt was hosted by AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights (JBI), which works to promote respect for universal human rights including religious freedom and freedom of expression, and to prevent genocide. Lipstadt’s full remarks can be found here.
She spoke at AJC following remarks on behalf of the United States at the commemoration event convened at the United Nations on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan. 27, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
JBI Director Felice Gaer recalled that former Secretary-General Kofi Annan had ended the UN’s long failure to recognize Jews as victims of the Holocaust in 1998, the 50th anniversary of the Genocide Convention. Since then, the UN has made several efforts to commemorate the Holocaust and reject Holocaust denial, most recently in a 2022 General Assembly resolution that specifically identifies Holocaust denial as form of antisemitism and calls on member states to increase education to prevent acts of genocide in the future.
“And so the UN has begun to properly acknowledge and come to terms with the Holocaust and stand up to those who sought to deny or diminish its significance,” Gaer said.
More than 80 AJC lay leaders attended the ceremony in the General Assembly chamber, which featured compelling testimonies from Holocaust survivors, both Roma and Jews.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said fighting racism and bigotry was a “foundational mission” of the UN, and spoke critically about the Hamas massacre on Oct. 7, when 1,200 men, women, children, and babies were slaughtered and more than 240 were kidnapped, with 136 still in captivity.
When Guterres called once again for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, his remarks were interrupted by applause from the audience of nearly 2,000 diplomats and guests.
“Every one of us must resolve to stand up against the forces of hate, discrimination, and division,” Secretary General Guterres said. “We must condemn antisemitism unequivocally whenever and wherever we encounter it.”
AJC is the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people. With headquarters in New York, 25 offices across the United States, 14 overseas posts, as well as partnerships with 38 Jewish community organizations worldwide, AJC’s mission is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. For more, please visit www.ajc.org.