Avi Abraham Benlolo
Press Release: On eve of Yom Hashoah, A Dangerous Precedent Comparing Holocaust to Covid-19
In the last decade, as I have taken over 300 leaders to visit the death camps in Europe - including Auschwitz - my one final message to them was: "You are now witnesses. It's up to you to share what you saw here and what you heard from the Holocaust survivor. When the time calls upon you, we only ask of you to not be silent".
04/07/21: This evening, as we begin tearful commemorations of Yom Hashoah - Holocaust Remembrance Day - we weep as we see more of our cherished Holocaust survivors pass away knowing that Antisemitism worldwide is on the rise once again.
Tonight, at sundown, Jewish communities will begin services and memorials for the six million children, women and men who were murdered by the Nazis. The Holocaust - or the Shoah as it is called in Hebrew - is a time of deep reflection and a call to action to ensure that Never Again is more than just words.
Over the last year, there have been outrageous Holocaust comparisons by those who oppose public health measures as a response to Covid-19. Just this past weekend, a Canadian pastor yelled at police to leave his church, comparing them to Nazis after they came into his church on a health check.
In another report, an Ontario Minister of Provincial Parliament is said to have posted a tweet that "compared Ontario's Covid-19 public health measures to the Holocaust". The Global News report said this was "in reaction to the recent shutdown implemented across Ontario".
Over the last year, since the start of Coronavirus, antisemitism rates have increased dramatically. Even while Stats Canada recently released a report indicating a 20% decline, that measurement applies to 2019 - the year prior to the pandemic. In recent days, we have seen an increase in antisemitic graffiti.
The pandemic has unleashed a wave of hate crime and antisemitic attacks online especially, but also violently. On January 6th, 2021, the US Capitol was stormed by a mob - many of whom were identified as white supremacists. In Toronto and most recently in Manhattan, Jewish people have been violently assaulted. The ADL in the US reports a 63% increase in Antisemitism.
A Call to Action: The 76th anniversary since the end of the Holocaust brings with it a desperate concern for the future of humanity. We can no longer afford to be silent. In the last decade, as I have taken over 300 people to visit the death camps in Europe - including Auschwitz - my one final message to them was: "You are now witnesses. It's up to you to share what you saw here and what you heard from the Holocaust survivor. When the time calls upon you, I only ask of you to not be silent".
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Avi Abraham Benlolo has been described as the nation's most prominent and noted expert in Holocaust studies, in countering Antisemitism and promoting human rights. He has dedicated nearly three decades in executive capacities in the Jewish community and as a leading voice in Canada. His academic research, graduate degree, Ph.D. coursework and nearly three decades of professional work has focused on these arenas in addition to peace and security in the Middle East. He has published hundreds of articles in these areas. In recognition of his national and international leadership in this area, he has received numerous awards including an Honorary Doctorate from a prestigious Israeli university for his work in Holocaust studies and combating antisemitism; an Order of Vaughan for his distinguished contribution to anti-racism, equity and diversity; the Queens Diamond Jubilee Award for his contributions to Canada and a race relations award for best practice, based on distinguished service in promoting human rights.