By: Jennie Peled  | 

Unpack With YUPAC: Biden’s Declaration on Holocaust Remembrance Day

On April 14, President Joe Biden issued a statement in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day. In it, he reflects upon his visit to Yad Vashem in 2022, expressing his condolences on the meaningless loss of so many Jewish lives. Quoting Holocaust survivor Elie Weisel, Biden reminds us that “indifference is the friend of the enemy,” a motto which he stands by in regard to the United States’ stance on antisemitism. His statement includes the institution of April 16–23 as a week for Holocaust remembrance in the United States. 

Furthermore, he details a new United Nations resolution on Holocaust education and a renewed U.S. strategy to fight antisemitism. The resolution is specifically aimed to combat Holocaust denial through a joint effort with UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. His national strategy includes the appointment of American historian Deborah Lipstadt as special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. Special Envoy Lipstadt has specific expertise in combating Holocaust denial, through her several books on the subject and court case with major Holocaust denier David Irving

While Biden delivered a similar statement in 2021, it is still incredibly important to have his administration's stance reaffirmed in such a rising climate of antisemitism. Rather than falling to pressures of the media and anti-Israel sources, the Biden administration is declaring its commitment to protecting the Jewish people and state against antisemitism. He acknowledges that the Holocaust was not just an isolated event, but a culmination of hatred against the Jews that we risk repeating if we allow antisemitism and Holocaust denial to run rampant. 

As of 2020, 63 percent of people in a survey by the Claims Conference had no idea that six million Jews were killed and almost half could not name a single concentration camp. 11 percent of people even believed that the Jews caused the Holocaust. While most of these people may not have any personal feelings of antisemitism, their ignorance leaves them susceptible to those who wish to turn people against the Jewish people and the Jewish state. It is incumbent upon each of us to fight against this trend, and with support from the Biden administration and, hopefully, also future administrations, there is hope for a future of greater knowledge and sympathy for the plight of Jews, then and now.

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Photo Caption: Biden in Yad Vashem in July 2022

Photo Credit: Haim Zach via Creative Commons