In Commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Dr. Robert Williams
By Stephen E. Lipken
The 2022 International Holocaust Remembrance Day Virtual Commemoration was presented by Harriett and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center at Queensborough Community College on Thursday, January 27th, featuring Dr. Robert Williams, Deputy Director for International Affairs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The discussion, “From Awareness to Action: Confronting Antisemitism at Home and Abroad,” was locally co-sponsored by The Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center along with others.
Remembrance Day is observed each January 27th, the date Auschwitz was liberated in 1945.
City University of New York Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez referred to the recent struggle in Colleyville, Texas, “in which Jewish people were held hostage in their House of Worship.
“We must acknowledge that antisemitism is with us today…
“We must stand in unity against all prejudice, racism and stereotyping. As Chancellor of this great and diverse University I am here to emphasize with strongest conviction that we will not condone religious, racism or ethnic hatred on any of our 25 campuses.”
“First, antisemitism is persistent. It is called the oldest hatred for a reason,” Williams began.
“Antisemitism is not unique to any one religion, society or culture. It has multiple influences that include but are not limited to religious bias; white nationalism; neo-Nazism; communism; populism; anti-Zionism; anti-Globalism; post-Colonialism; anti-Americanism and conspiracy thinking.”
Williams pointed out that antisemitism in America included General Ulysses S. Grant trying to expel Jews from Paducah, Kentucky in 1862 during the Civil War and lynching of a Jewish man, Leo Frank in Marietta, Georgia in 1915. “Attacks against Jewish communities became even more common with the rise of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s-‘60’s. Between 1957 and 1958 there were at least 8 actual or attempted bombings of Jewish institutions in the United States.
“In 2020 the FBI determined that 58% of all religious-based hate crimes were directed at Jews.
“The decline of 60.2% in 2019 was due to the COVID lockdown.” Williams then traced the path of antisemitism in Europe, from Roman times to blood libel and conspiracy theories.
Dr. Williams sits on the steering committee of the Global Task Force on Holocaust Distortion and served for four years as chair of the Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial at the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.