“It is urgent!” The 7th March of Life Conference calls to stand up against antisemitism
This year, a hybrid March of Life conference took place, including many hosts and supporters from different nations. More than 4000 participants from 28 nations watched the highlight of the conference, the Night to Honor Israel, welcoming author and one of the best known Holocaust survivors, Roma Ligocka from Poland, as well as Member of Knesset Ruth Wasserstein Lande, Boris Palmer, the mayor of Tuebingen, and Dr. Michael Blume, Baden-Württemberg State Government Commissioner against Antisemitism.
On Friday evening, Antonio Rozzini gave an introduction to the history of the Jews in Italy, as well as the country’s antisemitism. He mentioned that the oldest synagogue in the world is in Rome, but that Italy also gave birth to fascism and the antisemitism of the Church. Andrej Mischenko, director of the March of Life in Ukraine, joined the conference online and reported on the current situation in his country.
A collaboration with the “Combat Antisemitism Movement” (CAM) on Saturday afternoon raised awareness regarding the numerous accounts of Holocaust trivialization at Covid-19 demonstrations. “Nothing in today’s situation can be compared to the industrialized mass murder of six million Jews and millions of others by the Nazis. This kind of trivialization is an insult to the victims, who don’t have a voice today, as well as to the survivors. It shows a complete lack of knowledge about the Holocaust” said CAM program director Arthur Masijeran.
Regarding the worldwide issue of Antisemitism, March of Life President Jobst Bittner added: “We notice a great urgency in this time. It is not about us continuing in our own context. antisemitism as spread so fast that we need specific answers and must know what we are dealing with.” A recent study of the World Jewish Congress states that in Germany every third young adult below 25 years of age thinks antisemitically. Among the adults it is every fifth person. Jobst Bittner confirmed from his own experience: “Everywhere in the nations we realize that we are reaching our limits: in our educational work, in our schools, in information itself. These limits are limits within us: how much are we willing to do about the antisemitism in our own lives?” That is why the March of Life is offering more international seminars of working through the past. These, and an introduction of how to host a March of Life, were discussed in depth in different Zoom-Rooms.
“A Night to Honor Israel”
The speakers of the evening were Michael Kashi, chairman of the Jewish Community of Wuerttemberg, Michael Blume, Baden-Württemberg State Government Commissioner against antisemitism, as well as Ruth Wasserman Lande, Member of Knesset of the Christian Allies Caucus, expressing their gratitude towards the commitment of the March of Life movement. In his greeting, Boris Palmer mentioned two antisemitic incidences in Tübingen that worried him: The call for a Palestine reaching from the Jordan to the sea (“where does this leave room for Israel?”), and shouts of “perish Palmer” in front of his own front door, reminding him of the shouts of “perish Jewry” during the Nazi-Regime.
A central part of the evening event was the story of Holocaust survivor and author of the book “The Girl in the Red Coat”, Roma Ligocka. Roma was born 1938 in Krakow, survived the ghetto and was able to hide in a polish family for two years. In the movie “Schindler’s List” she found herself to be the girl in the red coat and published her biography in 2000.
Heinz Reuss, international director of the March of Life, concluded the conference by calling for participation at this years’ Marches of Life around Yom HaShoah (28th April 2022) with the motto “From the Heart and on Foot”, and also encouraged to host a March in one’s own city. Together with the European director of the March of the Living, Michel Gourary, he announced the cooperation of “March of the Living“ und “March of Life” at the March of Life in Berlin on Yom HaShoa, 27th April 2022.