Jerusalem, January 22, 2004

January 27: Israel’s National Day to Combat Anti-Semitism
(Communicated by the Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs)

Natan Sharansky, Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, inaugurates Israel’s first national day of solidarity with Jewish communities around the world suffering from the rising tide of anti-Semitism.

Natan Sharansky, Israel’s Minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, announced today that the Israeli Government has designated January 27 as a "National Day to Combat Anti-Semitism". On this day, chosen to coincide with the annual European commemoration of the Holocaust, Israeli schools, the IDF, public institutions and the media are conducting special programming focused on the dangers of resurgent anti-Semitism around the world.

"Anti-Semitism threatens the Jewish people, the very existence of the State of Israel, and in fact the entire world," said Sharansky. "We must raise awareness in Israel, strengthen the solidarity between Israel and world Jewry, and increase Israeli citizens’ sense of responsibility regarding events in the Diaspora."

The date January 27 – the date Auschwitz was liberated – is the official Holocaust Memorial Day in many European countries, including Sweden, the UK, Denmark, Italy and Germany. At Sharansky’s instigation, the cabinet’s ministerial committee for ceremonies has declared the day an official national day of solidarity with Jewish communities enduring increasing anti-Semitism, and of education and action to fight anti-Semitism throughout the world.

"We must combat anti-Semitism today; tomorrow may be too late," Sharansky added. "History has taught us that anti-Semitism starts with the Jews, but doesn’t end with them. Thus the fight against anti-Semitism is everyone’s obligation – as Israelis, as Jews, and as citizens of the world."

 January 27- Israel-s National Day to Combat Anti-Semitism-22-Jan-2004

Key events on and around the National Day include:

Sunday, January 25:
The cabinet will dedicate part of its weekly government meeting to the topic of Anti-Semitism; minister Sharansky will present to the Prime Minister and the cabinet a review of global anti-Semitic incidents and trends for the year 2003.

Monday, January 26:
7:30 am – IDF General Staff Forum – As part of the General Staff meeting, a discussion on "Islamic Anti-Semitism as a strategic threat to Israel" will be held with the participation of minister Sharansky.

9:30 am – Seminar for educators on "The role of the State of Israel in the fight against anti-Semitism", with the participation of the heads of the education ministry, universities, student organizations and the Jewish Agency, in the Biblical Lands museum in Jerusalem. Minister of education Limor Livnat and minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora affairs Natan Sharansky will open the seminar, which continues until 1pm, with a discussion of "Policy and political aspects of the fight against anti-Semitism."

2:00 pm – Minister Sharansky and the chairman of Yad Vashem, Avner Shalev will host the ambassadors of European countries in a unique colloquium on "Education and Anti-Semitism" in advance of the European Holocaust Memorial Day and Israel’s Day to Combat Anti-Semitism. The event will include a presentation of new educational kits and online curriculum prepared by Yad VaShem’s School for Holocaust Studies for use in schools worldwide, and a discussion about the dangers – and opportunities – caused by recent events in Europe. Minister Sharansky will call on the ministers of education in Europe to include these lesson plans in their school systems, as part of the battle against anti-Semitism (available at

Tuesday, January 27 – National Day to Combat Anti-Semitism
9:30 am – Minister Sharansky will appear before the cadets of the IDF officers’ course in Har Gilo, as part of activities carried out by the IDF’s Education Corps in every unit in the country. Prior to this, a handbook was distributed to all education officers, produced by the education corps, with lesson plans and activities covering the "new" anti-Semitism, solidarity and responsibility between Israelis and Jews of the Diaspora, and the fight against anti-Semitism as part of the struggle against racism and for democracy and freedom.

10:00 am – 4:00 pm – Full-day seminar for leaders and counselors of all of Israel’s youth movements and heads of worldwide Jewish youth movements, on the topic "Anti-Semitism of the 20th Century – Holocaust Memory under Attack", at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. At 10:00 am Chairman Avner Shalev will lead a discussion on the relevance of the Holocaust to the current wave of anti-Semitism; at 1 pm minister Sharansky will speak on "Israel’s role in the fight against anti-Semitism".

3:00 pm – As part of an "open-line" program on Galei Tzahal (IDF radio), Minister Sharansky and Prof. Mina Porat, director of the Institute for Anti-Semitism at Tel Aviv University, will participate in a discussion on anti-Semitism and its relevance to Israelis today.

4:00 pm – The Knesset (Israel’s parliament) will sit in special session to observe Israel’s National Day to Combat Anti-Semitism, with the participation of the prime minister, Ariel Sharon.

5:30 pm – The World Maccabi movement will hold a conference on the global struggle against anti-Semitism at Kfar Maccabia in Ramat Gan. The conference will include the personal testimony of youth from around the world; at 6:30pm minister Sharansky will speak as part of a discussion panel.

A number of international Jewish youth movements, including Bnei Akiva, Habonim, Young Judea and others, are holding identical ceremonies in at least 10 countries around the world, focused on understanding the roots and dangers of anti-Semitism and practical ways to combat it. In addition, throughout the week the Jewish Agency will be holding special training sessions on dealing with the new anti-Semitism in Jewish educational centers around the world, and, together with Jewish communities and federations, on supporting Israel and distinguishing between legitimate criticism of Israeli policy and anti-Semitism.

The Jewish Agency has posted, on its "Building A Jewish World" website, a number of educational units, suggested activities, and discussion groups, for use by educators and individuals around the world.

Major European Countries to Mark Holocaust on January 27
(Communicated by Yad Vashem)

On January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, many countries throughout Europe will hold official Holocaust commemoration days. Yad Vashem is providing a variety of remembrance and education resources for events in these countries.

Through Yad Vashem’s website, the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem is providing Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies, lesson plans, online exhibitions, a photograph library, and lists of victims’ names for memorial readings. Among these is the International School’s new one-hour lesson plan, Remembering the Holocaust and Combating Xenophobia on January 27th, which is available in English, German, French, Italian, and Swedish. These tools and content are designed to help educators, community leaders, and other interested parties commemorate the Holocaust in an edifying, meaningful, and respectful way.

Austria’s Ministry of Education and Culture has publicized the lesson plan on its website. The European Standing Conference of History Teachers’ Associations (EUROCLIO) is using the Remembering the Holocaust lesson plan. Its latest bulletin, no. 18, features an article by the International School’s Asper International Holocaust Studies Program Director, Richelle Budd Caplan, titled, Holocaust Consciousness in Europe and Teaching the Shoah Outside of Europe. Yad Vashem has also notified hundreds of educators and others affiliated with the Association of Holocaust Organizations (AHO), the Council of Europe, and the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance, and Research (ITF) of its availability.

On January 26, Director of Russian Programs at the International School for Holocaust Studies, Dr. Irit Abramsky-Bligh, will lecture on The Meaning of the Holocaust in the 21st Century, Current Methodologies of Teaching the Holocaust, as well as Today’s Antisemitism in Milan, Italy. The lecture is being organized by the SIGLI della Shoah (Children of the Shoah) organization of children of Holocaust survivors. On January 28 in Rome, Dr. Abramsky-Bligh will deliver a paper titled, The Uniqueness of the Fate of Libyan Jewry During the Second World War, which is based on her book, Encyclopedia of Communities: Libya and Tunisia. This will take place at an international conference titled Il Campo di Concentramento nella Storia del Nove Chento.

The International School for Holocaust Studies has also prepared a booklet of articles on today’s antisemitism. International School staff is distributing these booklets, which are available in English and Hebrew, to participants in its programs.

Yad Vashem recently announced the publication of the first book in a new series on post-Holocaust issues. Europe’s Crumbling Myths: The Post-Holocaust Origins of Today’s Anti-Semitism, by Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, is a joint publication of Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and the World Jewish Congress. It features interviews with 15 leading scholars, including Yad Vashem’s Academic Advisor, Prof. Yehuda Bauer, Head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem, Prof. David Bankier, and Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, Deborah E. Lipstadt. Journalists are invited to contact Yad Vashem for review copies and to arrange interviews.

Yad Vashem has updated the section of its website devoted to antisemitism. Titled "The Middle East Conflict, Antisemitism, and the Holocaust," this resource provides background and perspective that are critical to understanding the dangerous resurgence of antisemitism and its mix with anti-Zionism.

Yad Vashem is also releasing articles on Holocaust remembrance, antisemitism, and related issues in the media in countries that mark January 27.

About January 27

Among the countries marking January 27 as Holocaust Remembrance Day are Germany, England, France, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Greece, Russia, Estonia, Romania, and the Czech Republic. The Council of Europe also sponsors a project for schools in each of its 48 member states to choose the day on which they wish to memorialize the Holocaust.

 January 27- Israel-s National Day to Combat Anti-Semitism-22-Jan-2004
 January 27- Israel-s National Day to Combat Anti-Semitism-22-Jan-2004
The Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism
 January 27- Israel-s National Day to Combat Anti-Semitism-22-Jan-2004
Yad Vashem – Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority