The World Council of Churches joins in solemn commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp, Auschwitz, and of the full revelation of the extremity of human evil that it laid bare. Global reaction against the appalling atrocity of the Holocaust was a major driver for the drafting and adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which, as a joint statement by UN human rights special procedure mandate-holders affirms, is “a key legacy of the Holocaust’s victims -- including the 6 million Jews who, alongside members of other targeted groups, were murdered in a uniquely brutal, systematic and state-sanctioned campaign of antisemitic dehumanization and persecution.”

WCC denounces a resurgent tide of antisemitic attacks in recent years, as seen in Toulouse, Pittsburgh, Brussels, Poway and Jersey City. We are alarmed at the dramatic increase in antisemitic rhetoric and incidents that has been reported in many countries, and at the pernicious persistence of Holocaust denial, especially online.

WCC and its member churches cherish their relations with Jewish partners in dialogue and collaborative action, and reaffirm our commitment to working with Jewish partner organizations and communities to counter the current trend towards ‘normalization of hatred’ against ‘the other’ in many parts of the world. Following a joint conference with the International Jewish Committee for Inter-religious Consultations (IJCIC) in June 2019, WCC is working with IJCIC to explore ways in which such joint efforts can be strengthened and implemented.

We observe that antisemitism is often and in many places the first expression of rising intolerance and violence against minority communities, and that it must be resisted and rejected by all people of good will from all communities. The Holocaust against the Jews during the Second World War is the most powerful and abhorrent example of the consequences of failing to confront those who promote antisemitic hate speech.

On this International Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, we must all recognize that antisemitism as not an historical anomaly but a persistent and rising threat to Jews and to the openness and inclusiveness of societies around the world. In our worship in the Ecumenical Centre on this day, we commemorate this anniversary and join in prayers offered around the world for the victims of the Holocaust and of antisemitic violence.

WCC calls on its member churches to increase their solidarity and cooperation with Jewish communities and partners in their own contexts to address this threat, to confront the normalization of hatred against ‘the other’, and to engage in advocacy with their governments and authorities for the promotion and protection of human rights and dignity equally for all without discrimination.

WCC moderator Dr Agnes Abuom

WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit