JERUSALEM, Israel – World leaders gathered in Malmö, Sweden on Wednesday for the International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance where they blamed social media for the global rise in anti-Semitism.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog addressed the forum by video. He urged leaders to fight anti-Semitism online and to keep up social media companies accountable for the content they allow on their platforms.
“Anti-Semitism is an infusion of hate into pockets of ignorance, a force of destruction which wears down any virtue in its path,” he said. “It will require not only improving Holocaust education in schools, such as the noticeable program of Yad Vashem, but also working aggressively on social media, including with and confronting social media companies to ensure that hateful incitement is quickly removed.”
YouTube and Facebook officials vowed to be part of the solution.
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said the company is “now removing 15 times more hate speech than we were just five years ago. And we are not going to stop.”
Pedro Pina, head of YouTube in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, said the platform pledged more than $5.8 million to the cause.
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United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Biden administration was allocating $1 million to counter online anti-Semitism in the Middle East and North Africa. The US also has started “an expanded series of international visitor leadership programs” to confront anti-Semitism in North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America, he said.
“Our priorities include condemning and countering anti-Semitism, ensuring physical security for Jewish communities, supporting Holocaust education, especially for young people, protecting religious freedom and urging countries to commit more deeply to the fight against hate speech online,” Blinken said in a video message.
The head of the European Union’s executive arm, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, called anti-Semitism a “poison to our democracies” and said the EU plans to create “a network of young European ambassadors for Holocaust remembrance.”
“Who is in a better position to teach the lessons of the Shoah to their peers than our young?” She additional.
Swedish chief Minister Stefan Lofven, who hosted the event, said other action plans included new memorial sites, Holocaust museums and educational programs dedicated to preserving the history of the Holocaust.
Dani Dayani, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, praised the global community for addressing anti-Semitism.
“Against the backdrop of the upsetting rise in antisemitism worldwide, the Malmö Forum provides an important international platform to raise global awareness of the need for Holocaust remembrance in addition as an opportunity for government officials and the world community to join forces in the fight against this destructive and age-old occurrence,” he said.
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