Carrie Hart
News Analyst

Holocaust recognition and the fight against antisemitism

One Team-One People at the Holocaust Memorial in Athens Greece, 2022. Photo by Center for Jewish Impact. Used with permission.

January 27, 2023, marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day in commemoration of the six million Jews that were killed in the Holocaust, and millions of others that were victims of Nazi tyranny. This day is honored by dozens of countries around the world, who remember the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The Jewish People are both winning and losing the battle for Holocaust recognition worldwide, according to Robert Singer, Chairman of the Center for Jewish Impact (CJI) and a member of the Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) board of governors.

A year ago, the European Union (EU) established a strategic plan on how to deal with the Holocaust memory. Recently, the EU ambassador to Israel, Dimiter Tzantchev, gathered more than 70 diplomats together in what Singer describes as a positive sign in honoring the victims of the Holocaust.

“The fact that the 27 member states of the EU are dealing with this issue (allocating budgets; promoting Jewish life in Europe; fighting antisemitism; securing sites of facilities of Jewish schools and community centers), brings a lot of hope that people do understand this,” says Singer.

On the negative side, Singer notes that even though more than 80 years have passed since the Second World War started, Jewish people in Europe, America, and around the world, are still afraid to express signs of being Jewish. “It is especially worrying in the US which has the largest Jewish community outside of Israel, and where Jewish life is flourishing. Almost, on a daily basis, there are different reports coming out, and all of them show a clear trend of cases of antisemitism. We ask all governments to deal with this issue.”

According to Singer, in the future, this battle will become more and more complicated every year. Holocaust survivors, who can tell their stories firsthand, are dying and the world is dealing with other crisis situations. “We are losing the attention of the people, and the only way to deal with this is proper education using a national curriculum and explaining that it’s part of Jewish history but also a part of world history.”

Singer is doing his part to highlight where there is antisemitism, bigotry, racism, and hatred, especially in the sports community. Last year, the Center for Jewish Impact (CJI) collaborated with Maccabi Tel Aviv Basketball Club and the World Zionist Organization in an initiative called One Team-One People. It recognizes that to combat hate in sports, people must be on the same team. Maccabi Tel Aviv is the role model for Israeli youth. It’s a national team that has 900,000 followers.

“We were looking how to bring the memory of the Holocaust to younger generations. The Holocaust happened in Europe; and Maccabi Tel Aviv is the only team that, for a number of years, is playing in the Euro league — the main league in Europe. They are playing in 17 cities every year; major cities where the Holocaust happened.”

It was decided to use the opportunity of sports heroes as role models in Europe as a place to bring together young people, communities, local authorities, and the commemoration of events in what has become very successful projects.

This year, as part of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s game in Barcelona, coinciding with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, One Team-One People is highlighting events on January 30 and 31, 2023, involving two European Jewish communities in Barcelona. A main focus is on Jewish athletes who perished in the Holocaust. Students in these communities, as part of their Holocaust studies, have built a curriculum that focuses on six of the athletes. One of the goals is to use sports as a tool to combat hate and racism while promoting tolerance.

The six athletes that died in the Holocaust and will be honored at the ceremony in Barcelona are: Edith Hahn, Esther Rosa, Alfred Flatov, Lilli Henoch, Janos Garay, and Noah Lieger.

The events in Barcelona are overshadowed by pressure from the BDS movement in Europe that wants to degrade relations between Barcelona and Tel Aviv, including agreements made between the two cities going back to 1978. Israeli officials, including Singer, will be meeting with senior political and government figures on the sidelines of the gatherings in Barcelona, to discuss and try to resolve the BDS issues. In a month’s time, the city council of Barcelona will vote on whether to cancel its agreements with the city of Tel Aviv or not. This dispute has affected communities in Barcelona that might have joined in with the Holocaust commemoration events at the end of this month.

Meanwhile, One Team-One People continues to focus on intolerance and antisemitism in Europe, especially among fans of the popular European sport of soccer (called “football” in Europe and Israel). According to Singer, “We have to do more educational programs, and meetings between youth and fans from different clubs. A lot of this comes from ignorance. They don’t know about the Holocaust, or antisemitism, and we should be invested more in education.”

Robert Singer, Chairman of Center for Jewish Impact, Holocaust Memorial in Athens Greece, 2022. Used with permission
About the Author
Carrie Hart is a news analyst reporting on political, diplomatic, military and social issues as they relate to Israel, the Middle East, and the international community.
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