New Zealanders to commemorate IHRD

January 26, 2020 by J-Wire News Service
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New Zealanders will gather around the country tomorrow to remember the Holocaust with the sad new realisation that New Zealand isn’t immune to racial hatred and violence, the Holocaust Centre of New Zealand says.

Bob and Freda Narev

Tomorrow, the United Nations International Holocaust Remembrance Day marks 75 years since the Red Army liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp.

Holocaust Centre chair Deborah Hart said today’s commemoration come at a time when the Jewish community and many other ethnic minorities are anxious about growing racism in New Zealand and around the world.

“This hatred is fed by old stereotypes and newer prejudices. The horrific attack on Christchurch mosques was felt deeply by the Jewish community. When police closed Synagogues on the Sabbath for the first time in New Zealand’s history the following day, Jewish people gathered in homes and prayed for their Muslim whanau.

“Today as we remember the murder of six million Jews – including 1.5 million Jewish children – the lessons of the Holocaust are more important than ever. Remembering the Holocaust teaches us we must fight antisemitism, intolerance and hatred through education.”

Deborah Hart said a recent report on freedom of religion or belief released by UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed “stresses that antisemitism if left unchecked by governments, poses risks not only to Jews but also to members of other minority communities”.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will attend tomorrow’s commemoration service in Auckland where she will have the opportunity to meet with some of New Zealand’s remaining survivors.

Jacinda Ardern said the Holocaust teaches us that we must reject bigotry and hatred.

“There is a unifying power of interfaith and intercultural understanding, which we saw after March 15. We know the danger of seeing people based on what they look like, and what religion they are.

“We must look at one another with humanity and kindness. We must counter acts of brutality and violence with compassion and empathy,” she said.

Holocaust survivor Bob Narev says the hardest obstacle for many survivors was trying to resume a normal life after such a horrific experience.

“My thoughts have been with the Christchurch Muslim community since March 15. Only together as a country, can we fight racial hatred.

“It is too easy for commemorations to become perfunctory. We must ensure that International Holocaust Remembrance Day is both a commemoration and an expression of commitment.

We must seize opportunities for New Zealand to ensure that its dedication to fighting antisemitism and all forms of racism is more than just a moral stance and must also be reflected in our actions,” Bob Narev said.


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