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Israel urges govt to officially mark Holocaust Remembrance Day

BY: Kester Aburam Korankye
• Ms Shani Cooper addressing the participants

The Ambassador of the State of Israel to Ghana, Ms Shani Cooper, has called on the government of Ghana to join the International Holocaust Alliance and adopt its definition of anti-Semitism.

 She said it was the responsibility of all member states of the United Nations (UN) to join efforts at making the world a better place, hence the need for Ghana to join the Holocaust Alliance.

 "I call on the government to officially mark the Holocaust Remembrance Day, as set by a United Nations resolution," she said.

 Ms Cooper made the call when the Embassy of the State of Israel marked this year's International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Accra on Wednesday, January 27, 2021.

Holocaust

 This year’s Remembrance Day was marked in collaboration with the German Embassy and the UN, on the theme: "Facing the aftermath: Recovery and reconstitution after the Holocaust".

 The day was set aside in 2006 by the General Assembly of the UN in remembrance of the systematic murder of Jews in Europe and North Africa during World War II at the hands of the German Nazi government.

 Approximately six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis between 1939 and 1945, together with other minority groups, such as the deaf, the physically or mentally challenged, homosexuals, Roma or Gypsies, political dissidents and intellectuals, who were considered undesirable.

Account

Ms Cooper said although the Holocaust was remembered officially in 2006, that is, 60 years late, it still showed strong solidarity with the Jewish people, in that their suffering and revival were recognised.

She said Remembrance Day reminded her of her grandmother, who was six years when the Nazis invaded Brussels, Belgium, where she (the grandmother) lived with her parents and siblings.

When the Nazi soldiers called all Jews to come out, she said, her great grandfather asked her grandmother and her older sister to run to the fur factory where he worked.

Continuing, Ms Cooper said, they hid there for a night until he returned the next day and took either of them to a separate Christian family, and for six months her grandmother, who was six years old, was hidden in a suitcase in the attic and lay there without movement," she said.

 Ms Cooper said the remains of racism, anti-Semitism and discrimination were still thriving in the world.

 “We still see anti-Jewish events and neo-Nazi rallies around the world. People are killed just because they are Jewish and people wear T-shirts that say: 'Six million were not enough'. I am ashamed of the human race for forgetting so fast this 70-year-old history," she said.

Lessons

The UN Resident Coordinator in Ghana, Mr Charles Abani, said there was the need for the UN system to continue partnering the Embassy of Israel and other stakeholders to organise programmes to instill in young people the principles of human rights.

 "We must continue in these footsteps and ensure that generations after us are well informed and prepared to protect future generations from such negative acts," he said.

For his part, the German Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Christoph Retzlaff, said the most important lesson to be learnt from the Holocaust was: "Never again."

 He said that had become a fundamental tenet for Germany.

"The memory of our history shapes how we see ourselves today, and taking ownership of our past is important for Germany," he said.

 Mr Retzlaff said Germany's commitment never to allow a thing of such nature happen again was firmly rooted in its awareness of the importance of freedom and the rule of law, pluralism and tolerance.

 "These values are fragile and precious. They require constant vigilance and committed efforts and this means exposing old and new prejudices and stereotypes for what they are," he said.

 He said remembering the Holocaust imposed a duty not to forget what happened.

"It reminds us each and every day that our mutual coexistence depends on our shared humanity and the Holocaust must concern all of us today and tomorrow; not just on remembrance days and not just in countries where the catastrophe took place," Mr Retzlaff said.