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Yad Vashem Responds to Poll in UK Revealing Trivialization of the Holocaust

Call to Action: Focus on the Unique Nature and Facts of the Holocaust

25 January 2004

Yad Vashem is deeply disturbed by the results of a survey published on January 23 by The Jewish Chronicle. The survey indicates that 18% of Britons harbor antisemitic attitudes, that only 37% believe Jews have made a positive contribution to British society, that 47% do not fully agree that a Jewish prime minister would be as acceptable as a non-Jewish one, and that 15-24% (in various age groups) believe Jews have too much influence. The poll finds that one in seven Britons believe the scale of the Holocaust has been exaggerated.

Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, Avner Shalev said “the survey is additional proof that in order to battle antisemitism, Holocaust education must be augmented.” Shalev noted that the survey demonstrates the connection between the resurgence of antisemitism and the Holocaust. “We clearly see that the current wave of Jew-hatred is based mainly on twisting of the facts regarding the Holocaust, as well as trivialization of it,” he added.

Yad Vashem notes that the British educational system already devotes significant resources to Holocaust education. It calls on the British authorities and media to emphasize the unique nature of the Holocaust as the systematic murder of European Jewry. Lack of understanding of this leads to the distortions that breed the illegitimate attitudes reflected in last week’s survey. There is no better time for action than he present, as the UK will mark Holocaust remembrance day on January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

In advance of January 27, at the invitation of Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Natan Sharansky, Yad Vashem will conduct a presentation of its new lesson plan, Remembering the Holocaust and Combating Xenophobia on January 27th to Ambassadors, Honorary Consuls, and Representatives from approximately 20 European nations. The United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Israel, Simon McDonald will speak following the presentation. The lesson plan, which is available at http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/education/lesson_plans/antisemitism_january27.asp, was designed by the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem especially for January 27. It is available in English, German, French, Italian, and Swedish. The presentation will take place on January 26 at 2:00 PM at Yad Vashem. For more information, see our separate press release of today.