Simon Wiesenthal Center Reports From the IHRA Plenary in Zagreb, Croatia

November 28, 2023

Zagreb, Croatia -  International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) is holding the Second and final Plenary of the Croatian Presidency in Zagreb, its capital, affected by the repercussions of the infamous Hamas attack of October 7.

The delegates of the 35 member countries, the observer countries and the international agencies that act as permanent partners had their attention on generating the best ideas to combat the growing wave of Antisemitism and their hearts on the recovery of the kidnapped, among whom colleagues from Yad Vashem are counted, and the total dismantling of Hamas' terrorist actions.

The Wiesenthal Center, represented by its Director for Latin America, who is part of the Argentine Delegation, participated in the debates of the Education Working Group and the Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial.

In the latter, much of the morning was dedicated to a round table where each member country spoke about the aftermath of October 7. The results are worrying and call for immediate action.

There was broad consensus that although states acted well in principle, societies did not respond in the same way.

In Germany, for example, such a distortion of the Holocaust has been generated in the marches that it has been seen asking “Free Palestine from German Guilt”, insisting on the Antisemitic prejudice that Israel was created because of the guilt of the world after the Shoah. In Canada, the violent demonstrations are not pro-Palestinian, but pro-Hamas. TV reporters should call the members of that organization militants and not terrorists because of the threats to which they are exposed.

Belgium reports that in Brussels, given that Islam is the first religion, not only were there no demonstrations in favor of Israel, but in the electoral campaign they take advantage of Antisemitic arguments, comparing Gaza with Auschwitz.

Antisemitism in Australia increased by 500%. At a train station in the suburbs of Syndey, a demonstration was held to celebrate the Hamas attack. Universities that had adopted the IHRA Definition of Antisemitism are reversing that position. And the phenomenon moved to schools.

Nordic countries report distress among Jewish children in schools and in some cases, such as Norway, have had to hire professionals to explain what means being a Jew.

Italy, on the one hand, highlights that its Special Envoy for Antisemitism Issues has decided to attack these demonstrations with the law in hand; prosecutors and judges do not have sufficient training. The Wiesenthal Center, with extensive experience in this field, offered its help.

Spain highlighted that the position is so pro-Palestinian that on two occasions schools suspended classes so that students could attend the demonstrations.

Another important moment of the Committee was carried out by the Delegation of Israel, in which they spoke about the perception of Jews and Israel in the Muslim World, highlighting that many of the efforts that have been carried out have reverted after October 7. While there are still partners to work with, the streets are very negative.

Dr. Ariel Gelblung, Director of the Wiesenthal Center for Latin America, had the opportunity to use the floor to illustrate Antisemitism in that region, explaining how the various forms of that phenomenon manifest themselves. He placed special emphasis on the growth of Neo-Nazi groups in Southern Brazil, the always worrying situation in Chile and the growing danger of Iran's actions. He also spoke about the successes achieved during the visit of Roger Waters in Buenos Aires and Montevideo as well as what is expected in Colombia.

It should be noted that the first day was dedicated to visiting the Jasenovac Concentration Camp, where half a million people, Serbs, Roma, Jews and opponents of the Nazi collaborationist Ustasha regime, were annihilated. One of its Directors, Dinko Sakic, was denounced by the Wiesenthal Center, detained in Argentina, extradited and convicted in Croatia 25 years ago. The Ustica Romani Holocaust Memorial also was visited to pay tribute.

Given the situation raised, the Committee will continue working remotely, waiting for the future Presidency of the United Kingdom and the Glasgow Plenary next June 2024.

For further information, please contact Dr. Ariel Gelblung at +54 9 11 49695365, join the Center on Facebook, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent directly to your Twitter feed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).


Powered by Blackbaud
nonprofit software