UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. General Assembly approved an Israeli-sponsored resolution Thursday condemning any denial of the Holocaust and urging all nations and social media companies "to take active measures to combat antisemitism and Holocaust denial or distortion."
The 193-member world body approved the resolution by consensus -- without a vote -- and with a bang of a gavel by Assembly President Abdulla Shahid who met with a group of Holocaust survivors before the assembly meeting. Israel's No. 1 enemy, Iran, "disassociated" itself from the resolution.
The ambassadors of Israel and Germany, which strongly supported the resolution, stressed the significance of the resolution's adoption on Jan. 20: It is the 80th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference where Nazi leaders coordinated plans for the so-called "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" at a villa on the shores of Berlin's Wannsee Lake in 1942 during World War II.
The result was the establishment of Nazi death camps and the murder of nearly 6 million Jews, comprising one-third of the Jewish people. In addition, millions of people from other nationalities, minorities and targeted groups were killed, according to the resolution.
"We now live in an era in which fiction is becoming fact and the Holocaust is becoming a distant memory," Israel's U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan told the assembly in urging support for the resolution. "And as this happens following the greatest crime in human history, now comes the greatest cover-up in human history."
Erdan, the grandson of Holocaust survivors, said the resolution preserves the memory of the 6 million victims and is a commitment to make sure that Holocaust distortion and denial "will be tolerated no more."
He said social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and You Tube are spreading the "pandemic of distortions and lies" about the Holocaust.
"Social media giants can no longer remain complacent to the hate spread on their platforms" and must take action now, the Israeli ambassador said.
The resolution, cosponsored by 114 nations, commends countries that have preserved Nazi death camps and other sites from the Holocaust and urges the 193 U.N. member states "to develop educational programs that will inculcate future generations with the lessons of the Holocaust in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide."
It requests the U.N. and its agencies to continue developing and implementing programs aimed at countering Holocaust denial and distortions and to mobilize civil society and others to provide facts about the Holocaust.
FILE - People visit the the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe, the so-called Holocaust Memorial, during a snowfall in Berlin, Germany, Dec. 9, 2021.
Currently, the U.N. has an outreach program on the Holocaust and the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, has a program on Holocaust education and combatting antisemitism.
Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock issued a joint statement welcoming the resolution and expressing extreme concern at the "dramatic increase in Holocaust denial, distortion and revisionism." They said the phenomenon of comparing current political disputes to the Holocaust is "deeply troubling" and "a perversion of history" and injustice to Holocaust victims.
"We carry an obligation to remember, to learn and to challenge the growth of Holocaust revisionism, denial and distortion both on and offline," the ministers said.
Iran accused Israel of being "the only apartheid regime in the world" whose ideology is based on the two main drivers of World War II, "racism and expansionism." In a statement read by a junior diplomat, it also accused Israel of attempting "to exploit the sufferings of the Jewish people in the past as a cover for the crimes it has perpetrated over the past seven decades against the regional countries, including all its neighbors without exception."
Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but do reflect global opinion.
The General Assembly designated Jan. 27 -- the day the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Soviet army -- as the annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of victims of the Holocaust in 2005. The resolution underlines that remembrance "is a key component to the prevention of further acts of genocide."
It says Holocaust denial "refers to discourse and propaganda that deny the historical reality and the extent of the extermination of the Jews by the Nazis and their accomplices during World War II" and "any attempt to claim that the Holocaust did not take place" or call into doubt that gas chambers, mass shooting, starvation, and intentional genocide were used against the Jewish people.
The resolution says distorting or denying the Holocaust also refers to "intentional efforts to excuse or minimize" the role of Nazi collaborators and allies, "gross minimization" of the number of victims, "attempts to blame the Jews for causing their own genocide," statements casting the Holocaust as a positive event, and attempt to "blur the responsibility" for establishing concentration and death camps "by putting blame on other nations or ethnic groups."