News Releases 2018

Paris, 9 July 2018

Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr.Shimon Samuels, opened the proceedings, noting that, “this unique Holocaust essay competition programme, co-organized by the Association Verbe et Lumiere-Vigilance (VetL-V) together with the Simon Wiesenthal Centre-Europe, (CSW) and the Russian Holocaust Centre (RHC) is now in its fourteenth year and annually invites to Paris the five student winners from across the former Soviet Union, to present their research findings at UNESCO.”

The 2018 laureates are respectively from Moscow, Vladimir, Orel, Petrozadovsk and Berlin (the latter a German intern at the RHC in Moscow). These were chosen from well over 2,000 submissions.Attended by the delegations of Russia, Canada, Germany and Israel, the proceedings were opened by Dr. Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education. She commended the laureates' initiative as an opportunity for UNESCO’s agenda in Holocaust education", speaking of the organization's Holocaust Education Policy Guide and newly published Teachers’ Guide on Antisemitism and agreeing to consider joining Verbe et Lumiere-Vigilance, the Wiesenthal Center and the Russian Holocaust Centre, in editing for publicaton, the fourteen years' winning essays. Dr. Giannini quoted from the students’ papers, asking if they sought an academic career as encouraged by the network of UNESCO University Chairs.

"Sweden-Israel Friendship Association Director and Woman Leader Assaulted Defending Israeli Flag."

"The Centre stands in solidarity with its courageous Swedish friends who will withstand threats and violence in the name of truth and faith."

Visby, Swedish Gotland, 5 July 2018

Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels - together with Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Ilan Ben-Dov and Swedish M.P. Mikael Oscarsson - had opened the Centre's exhibition "People, Book, Land: the 3,500 Year Relations of the Jewish People with the Holy Land" at the Almedalen Festival in Visby, capital of the rugged Swedish island of Gotland.

5 July 2018 1
(3rd and 4th from the left) Dr. Shimon Samuels
with Israel Ambassador to Sweden Ilan Ben-Dov,
together with members of the Sweden-Israel Friendship Association.

Manama, Bahrain, 5 July 2018

As the 42nd UNESCO World Heritage Committee concludes its ten days of proceedings, the Director-General’s policy of depoliticization - pointedly regarding the Arab-Israel issue - seemed to have faded into the Bahrain desert sunset of consensus and harmony.

The Jerusalem debate was not resolved, but postponed, but for two blips:

- The Wiesenthal Centre had drawn attention to the interview granted to the Gulf Times by the Palestinian delegate, performing a litany of anti-Israel recriminations before the ink on the consensus resolution had began to dry [see picture below].

5 July 2018 Morocco

"The Wiesenthal Centre will ensure that no Nazi war criminal ever be included among the honoured."

Manama, Bahrain, 30 June 2018

Our alert regarding the French-Belgian nomination of First World War cemeteries and memorial sites was distributed to World Heritage Committee member-states. We feared that in cemeteries, also serving Second World War battlefields, Nazi murderers may be honoured in common graveyards with Allied units or - as we had identified on the nomination list  - memorials that serve currently as shrines for neo-Nazis. During the WHC debate, several states expressed reservations, mostly regarding the terms of reference of memory sites, especially battlefields.

The WHC decided to adjourn the nomination until its 44th session in 2020.

In the meantime, a working group will review "the boundaries of the site’s components and provide additional information". The Wiesenthal Centre offered its expertise.

A second French site, Nîmes, was deferred, leading the Ambassador to publicly condemn the politicization of the WHC.

Bottom line: any Great War 1914-1918 cemetery expanded for World War Two burials will be identified. The Wiesenthal Centre will ensure that no Nazi war criminal ever be included among the honoured. Our slogan is: "Reconciliation is valid for WWI - Never so for WWII."

“Reconciliation is valid for WWI - Not so for WWII.”

“The World Heritage Committee professional advisors must examine every military cemetery and shrine to identify any mines along the road to World Heritage status.”

Manama, Bahrain, 29 June 2018

Belgium and France are jointly presenting for UNESCO World Heritage status: “Funerary and memorial sites of the First World War” - 139 sites along the 1914-1918 Western Front, holding the remains of tens of thousands of soldiers of several nationalities.”

The French cemeteries are respectfully noted for religious markers: the Cross, the Crescent, the Star of David, and a stylized stele designed for agnostics and other faiths. Most of the 56 French cemeteries are a mix of nationalities, also marked for both French and German fallen. Listed are 22 German, 3 American, 8 Belgian, 4 Canadian and one graveyard for each of: Portuguese, Czechoslovak, Italian, Romanian, Danish, Russian and Irish.