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Coronavirus: Holocaust Remembrance Day Moved Online

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Holocaust Remembrance Day this year is playing out in an unprecedented way with many ceremonies and services taking place virtually amid the coronavirus crisis.

Although not in-person, the silver lining to having to adapt events to comply with social distancing orders, the day is made even more accessible at a time when our younger generations should be reminded of the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Earlier this year, this reporter spoke with a group of American university students considered to be part of generation Z, who were mostly in their early 20s and late teens, about a 2019 Pew Research study that found that less than half of American adults could recall that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. I learned that the memory is only continuing to escape the minds of the succeeding generations after speaking with seven students, only one of whom could tell me that 6 million Jews were killed, about their knowledge of the Holocaust.

The history is slipping away and the coronavirus pandemic is a reminder of that as we’re seeing a rise in antisemitic attacks promoting false accusations that the Jewish people are spreading the virus, often floating false conspiracies similar to the medieval blood libels.

Yoni Michanie, a former paratrooper in the Israel Defense Forces, pointed to the historic trend in his recent column for the Jewish New Syndicate writing, “Europe’s Black Plague, Russia’s 1917 Communist Revolution and Germany’s economic turmoil following the conclusion of World War I all saw a disproportionate rise in anti-Semitism. The logic is simple: When a crisis hits, the Jews will serve as worthy scapegoats. Following the Nazis systematic extermination of 6 million Jews, it seemed that the world had finally understood the dangers of anti-Jewish hatred. If it did, it only lasted a short while.”

The rise in hate wasn’t absent this year as many groups gathered online to reflect on the memory of the 6 million Jews who perished. In fact, a Zoom meeting co-hosted by the Israeli Embassy in Berlin and Holocaust survivor Zvi Herschel was disrupted by antisemitic “Zoombombers” who entered the chat room “posting pictures of Hitler and shouting anti-Semitic slogans,” according to Israel’s Ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff.

“To dishonour the memory of the #Holocaust and the dignity of the survivor is beyond shame and disgrace and shows the blatant antisemitic nature of the activists,” Amb. Issacharoff wrote on Twitter Monday night.

Images comparing the Jewish people and the Jewish state to the coronavirus with the hashtag #Covid48 were also trending across Palestinian social media pages on Monday.

The recent campaigns of hate are a sobering reminder for people of all faiths to continue to remember the Holocaust and keep the memory of the 6 million Jews who died in Hitler’s genocide alive. Those horrors must be remembered if it is to never happen again and using the virtual space to honor those lives with Holocaust Remembrance Day gives not only those willing to attend these events an opportunity but allows the world the same access to knowing the truth.

Click here to watch a series of testimonies from Holocaust survivors provided by Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem.

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International

VP Kamala Harris publicly mourns Palestinians killed in hostage rescue operation

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Vice President Kamala Harris mourned the Palestinians in Gaza who were killed in the successful Israeli hostage rescue operation this weekend during an address delivered over the weekend.

Israeli forces say Hamas intentionally kept the hostages in a “civilian environment.” They also said even the Palestinians who were holding the hostages were also “civilians.”

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari of the IDF said Hamas has been holding hostages inside civilian buildings, including the locations where Israeli forces rescued Noa Argamani, 26, Almog Meir Jan, 22, Shlomi Ziv, 41, and Andrey Kozlov, 27.

“Before I begin, I just say a few words about the morning which I know weighs heavily on all of our hearts,” she said.

“On Oct. 7, Hamas committed a brutal massacre of 1,200 innocent people and abducted 250 hostages,” she continued. “Thankfully, four of those hostages were reunited with their families tonight. And we mourn all of the innocent lives that have been lost in Gaza, including those tragically killed today.”

The Israeli operation retrieved four hostages who were taken into Gaza by Hamas on Oct. 7. Harris, speaking before the Michigan Democratic Party, celebrated their retrieval but spent more time lamenting the deaths of Palestinians killed in the operation, many of whom Israel has described as terrorists.

“We have been working every day to bring an end to this conflict in a way that ensures Israel is secure, brings home all hostages, ends ongoing suffering for Palestinian people and ensures that Palestinians can enjoy their right to self-determination, dignity and freedom,” Harris added. “As President Biden said last week, it is time for this war to end.”

Fox News reports that Hamas-run authorities in Gaza claim over 270 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli operation, though they make no distinction between militants and innocents. Israeli forces claim the number was fewer than 100.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan also confirmed reports on Sunday that some number of innocents appeared to have been killed in the operation.

“We the United States are not in a position today to make a definitive statement about [the death toll],” Sullivan said in a Sunday interview with CNN. “But we do know this: innocent people were tragically killed in this operation. The exact number we don’t know, but innocent people were killed.”

“Every day that we see more innocent people lost is another horrible, awful, tragic day,” he added.

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