Holocaust ignorance, denial shocking in Western countries

A new poll has revealed that 2.6 million people in Britain — 5 percent of adults — believe the Holocaust is a myth and 8 percent claim that the Holocaust has been exaggerated.

“Such widespread ignorance and even denial is shocking,” said Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT).

In separate and equally concerning polls, many young France residents and over half of young Americans, have never heard of the Holocaust. Fewer than half of American adults know how many Jews were killed in the Holocaust, according to the Pew Research Center. Only 45 percent of 11,000 Americans surveyed knew that 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust — and that was with multiple choice options!

Many believe ignorance about the Holocaust has given rise to anti-Semitism. This week the U.S. House of representatives passed a bill to provide $10 million in funding that would create a Holocaust Education Assistance Program Fund.

“Today far too many students in our country grow up without a basic knowledge of the horrors of the Holocaust,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) who introduced the “Never Again Education Act.”

On another positive note, “the most senior Islamic leadership delegation” of leaders from Arab nations visited Auschwitz for 75th anniversary of the Nazi death camp’s liberation. The secretary-general of the Muslim World League, Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed al-Issa, led a delegation of 62 Islamic clerics from 28 countries to Auschwitz.

“These kinds of horrible crimes must never happen again,” Al-Issa said.

Although few of the Arab leaders referred to “Jews” in connection with the Holocaust, their visit and statements were important historic millstones.

“While we remember Holocaust Memorial Day, we stand on the side of humanity against racism, hatred and extremism,” Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan wrote on Twitter. “And together we remember the lives taken so that such crimes against humanity will not repeat themselves.”

Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa wrote: “We stand with humanity in its rejection of racism, hatred and extremism. Together, we remember the lives that were lost so that these crimes against humanity would not be repeated.”

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