Ambassador Chris J. Lazaris, Chair of the Greek Presidency of the IHRA 2021 and Special Envoy of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the fight against Antisemitism and the defense of Holocaust Remembrance, addressed an opening speech to the webinar “Holocaust Education and Remembrance. Keeping up with the digital age”, organized on the 21st of April 2021 by the European Jewish Congress, in cooperation with the European Parliament Working Group against Antisemitism (WGAS).
In his opening speech, Ambassador Lazaris congratulated both the European Jewish Congress and the European Parliament Working Group against Antisemitism for taking the initiative to bring together European policy makers and Holocaust education specialists to explore the educational potential deriving from the use of modern and powerful digital means to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.
“In each era, different tools may be utilized to cultivate the memory. Now we are living in the digital age and digital tools, although sometimes not without controversy, should be used to spread the message to large audiences”, the Ambassador underlined, especially noting the double-edged role of the social media: On one hand, they serve as a fertile ground for hate speech, multiplying all kind of malicious attempts towards distortion and trivialization of the Holocaust; however, their communication dynamics can and should be deployed for promoting our message against racism, xenophobia and antisemitism.
Emphasizing that “we are decided to meet the challenge”, the Chair of the IHRA referred to the Greek Presidency’s deliberate and thoughtful choice to set Education as its main pillar: “Greece is committed to strengthen education about the Holocaust because it is our human responsibility, because it can help in dealing with negative issues like discrimination and in further improving awareness and protecting human rights”, he stressed.
Ambassador Lazaris further highlighted that, in advancing its objectives in Education, the Greek Presidency of the IHRA 2021 keeps in close cooperation with the Greek Ministry of Education, which with sensitivity, awareness and genuine interest has accomplished a commendable work to extend the impact of the Holocaust teaching and remembrance to every part of our society. “Because in fact, not only it is our duty to remember but also teaching the memory of the Holocaust gives us the possibility to strengthen the new generation’s critical thinking and forge responsible political attitudes within our society”, he concluded.
The webinar was open to a large audience on Zoom, while it was also broadcast live on the Facebook page of the European Jewish Congress. The event was hosted by WGAS Chair MEP Nicola Beer, WGAS Vice-chair & MEP Sergey Lagodinsky and WGAS Board members, MEP Ilana Cicurel and MEP Brando Benifei. The conference was moderated by EJC Director of European Affairs, Ariella Woitchik.