Voices For Truth And Humanity held their second annual Remembrance Awards Dinner this past Wednesday evening, November 10, in coordination with the anniversary of Kristallnacht. The organization is on a mission to stop the hate and educate the world of antisemitism. Overall, they promote Holocaust education in schools because the well-worn phase “Never Again” means to never forget. The group believes that fighting antisemitism and all forms of bigotry and discrimination is paramount. Voices for Truth and Humanity forcefully opposes BDS and other hate movements that use lies to delegitimize others. In addition to the Holocaust, Voices for Truth and Humanity promotes education of slavery and other genocides, primarily in public schools. They provide educational materials and factual information to counter the antisemitic voices, lies, violence, and intimidation used to promote intolerance. It is the hope of the organizers to reverse the dramatic increase of incidences of antisemitism and other bias crimes. Held at Crest Hollow Country Club, the event paid tribute to the work of the Wiesel family, and featured honored guests and political figures.

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President of the NY Board of Rabbis, led the invocation, stating, “We have a responsibility to live as Jews and to remember and promise to live as proud Jews.”

Rita Cosby, Director of LIU Global Service Institute, a television news anchor and correspondent as well as a WABC radio host, emotionally described her family connection to the Holocaust. “My father saw the beginning of World War Two as the planes were bombarding.” Cosby detailed in depth how her father joined the underground, shepherded food and weapons to those in the ghetto, and took life-threatening risks to save others. “My father fought in the Warsaw uprising and watched as many of his comrades were taken to Auschwitz,” said Cosby. Later, with 16 polish prisoners, he looked up and saw a star on an aircraft. “They noticed something thrown out of the plane. It was a chocolate bar with note tied with red ribbon thrown by an American pilot. ‘It is safe to walk during daytime,’ read the memo. ‘Go 15 miles West and you are free. There are no troops in between.’” At 90 pounds and standing at six feet tall, Cosby’s father couldn’t wait to come to America and share the story of his rescue.

“We are here to make sure the next generation does not forget. We must make sure they are taught of the genocide,” said Cosby. “New York State, like every other state, has no set curriculum being taught about one of the worst atrocities in history. What metrics are being used to measure if they are learning everything?” questioned Cosby as she described the youth of today smiling with swastikas and heil Hitler gestures simply out of ignorance for a lack of education. “Holocaust education should be mandatory.”

Congress Member Carolyn Maloney explained how a new grant she authored was passed with a bipartisan majority to provide teachers with the necessary resources to teach about the Holocaust in classroom and educational workshops.

It was also explained how although there needs to be a respect for differences, it cannot be one that leads to prejudices with underlying ramifications. The Holocaust is a dramatic warning of how state power can lead to the murder of innocent Jews and bring hate onto others. The Holocaust began with words and we must never forget the preciousness and value of a democracy.

The event and the extent of genocide was best described by Prime Minister Salih Hudayar of the East Turkistan Government in Exile, a Uyghur by birth. “Commemorating the lives lost 83 years ago on Kristallnacht, 31 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall — is one of the great honors of my life,” said Hudayar. “Even though I am Muslim, I know the indelible mark of suffering and genocide bonds the Uyghur people and the Jewish people.” The Prime Minister explained that the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the US Holocaust Museum said that the museum is “gravely concerned” that the “Chinese government might be committing genocide against the Uyghurs.” “For years now, our people have been crying out, and it was our Jewish friends who heard those cries first. For that, forever and for always, we be grateful to you,” said Hudayar.

Hudayar calls the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act the point when the US took its first step into codifying our universal promise to “Never Again” allow a Holocaust to occur.

“Authoritarianism is sweeping the world. I am not here only to speak on behalf of my people. It’s the responsibility at this dark hour to speak up for the human rights of all people, just as Elie Wiesel would. Just as Raoul Wallenberg would. Human rights globally are under threat, and this is certainly true for people of faith. We see hateful examples of anti-Semitism occurring everywhere from Europe to Texas. Christians are being persecuted from Africa to the Middle East and into Southeast Asia. And certainly, we see examples of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and others being persecuted in different place as well. For my people, who are predominately — but not exclusively Muslim — some 3 to 3.6 million of our Turkic Muslim brothers have been hoarded into a diabolical system of concentration camps, prisons, and labor camps, where detainees are subjected to brainwashing, beatings, torture, starvation, involuntary medication with unknown substances, and in some cases, even rape and murder. Make no mistake, what is happening to us is what a large-scale genocide looks like in the 21st Century. We don’t know how many have died in these camps, but we fear that when we finally know the truth, this may be our own Holocaust,” stated Hudayar.

The event proved that we need to educate the next generation about the totality of the Second World War and then maybe we have the chance to educate on the Holocaust. Elisha Wiesel brought home this message. “When in college, there was a debate if can one burn a flag. I questioned my father on this and he explained, ‘You don’t understand what the flag meant to us in Buchenwald when it was carried by soldiers whose brothers died; you can never know. Kristallnacht in not over. It lives on in Twitter and at The NY Times where hired individuals promote anti-Israel causes. The Holocaust must be taught for universal lessons and what man can do to man as people actively still deny or minimize its occurrence.’”

By Shabsie Saphirstein