On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, leaders call for rejection of anti-Semitism and forms of hate – CBC News

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The Canadian prime minister and the US president highlight the worrying rise in anti-Semitism in times of conflict

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A man is seen looking at a wall with the names of Holocaust victims at the Budapest Holocaust Memorial on Friday. (Bernadett Szabo/Portal)

The annual occasion to reflect on the horrors of the Holocaust came Saturday amid intense global tensions over fighting between Israel and Hamas.

This context was evident in the messages of global leaders on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which condemned Nazi-era atrocities and called for the rejection of hateful ideologies, while highlighting the increasing presence of anti-Semitism in today's conflict-ridden times.

In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement paying tribute to the millions of Jews murdered during the Holocaust and calling on Canadians to remember the victims and survivors.

A partial view of people gathered at Ottawa's National Holocaust Museum on Friday for a service marking the 79th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

“We reaffirm our promise to never forget,” said Trudeau, who in his Friday statement also paid tribute to the many Roma, Sinti and other groups of people who were also targeted by the Nazis.

He also highlighted the “sharp, disturbing rise in anti-Semitism” seen in Canada and elsewhere in recent months.

A clearer message was delivered by US President Joe Biden, who said the need to remember the evils of the past was “more urgent than ever” after the Hamas-led attacks on southern Israel on October 7 that sparked the ongoing war “be Gaza.

“We have [since] “We have witnessed an alarming rise in despicable anti-Semitism at home and abroad, exposing painful scars from millennia of hatred and genocide against the Jewish people,” Biden said in a statement released Friday. “This is unacceptable.”

On Friday there is a white rose at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. The annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day took place on Saturday. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

In Germany, where people laid flowers and lit candles at memorials to victims of Nazi terror, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said his country continued to bear responsibility for this “crime against humanity.”

He called on all citizens to defend democracy in Germany and fight anti-Semitism as the country marks the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

“'Never again' is commonplace,” said Scholz in his weekly video podcast. “January 27th calls on us: Stay visible! Stay audible! Against anti-Semitism, against racism, against misanthropy – and for our democracy.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whose country is struggling to repel Russia's all-out invasion, posted an image of a Jewish menorah on X, formerly Twitter, to mark Remembrance Day.

“Every new generation must learn the truth about the Holocaust. Human life must remain the highest value for all nations of the world,” said Zelensky, who is Jewish and lost ancestors in the Holocaust.

“Eternal memory of all Holocaust victims!” Zelensky tweeted.

With files from The Associated Press