International Holocaust Remembrance Day: EU must tackle contemporary Antisemitism and Antigypsyism
On the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, it is worth reflecting about the significance of this event for our present and our future. Indeed, why is it important to not let a year go by – even a difficult year like this one – without remembering such horrific events such as the Holocaust? Some people will ask (and have in fact asked): “This was so long ago, why should we continue to talk about it? For how long do we have to denounce crimes committed two or three generations ago, by people we never met?”
Such questions are asked not only about crimes as incommensurate as the Holocaust, but also, and more routinely, about other dark periods and events in our history and in our present, such as colonialism, slavery, and the many other cases of exclusion or dispossession, as well as the hate crimes that we still witness today against various vulnerable groups and individuals. Asking such questions indicates not only moral confusion, but also unease around responsibility. But responsibility is not comfortable. It was never supposed to be, and never has been.
Responsibility means being aware of our darkest impulses, not only as individual people, but also as members of humanity, and keeping them in check. Most of the people who live today many not be individually responsible for any of these crimes; and many of the people who lived when these crimes occurred were not themselves to blame for perpetrating them. Does that mean that they are not responsible in any way?
No. While it is true that we are only accountable for our own actions, we are responsible for our shared humanity. As human beings, we have a duty to preserve this humanity, and if not improve it, then at least to prevent it from degenerating. Crimes against humanity, such as the Holocaust, constitute the manifestations of such degeneration, and for this reason they must be committed to memory and solemn vows must be taken that they will never again be repeated. Remembering the Holocaust is not only a moral duty and an act of piety towards its many victims; it is also an occasion to recount humanity’s darkest hour, and to vow that we will never let that happen again.
With this in mind, we call upon EU institutions and Member States to take seriously all forms of hate speech and hate crimes and take every measure to prevent their normalization. Furthermore, we call upon States to monitor, investigate and sanction hate crime and all incitement to violence, to develop detailed strategies to address specific forms of racism, including Antisemitism and Antigypsyism, and to support cross-community initiatives by civil society.