Gov. Abbott mentions Commission on Anti-Semitism, Holocaust Education Week and adopting international definition of anti-Semitism
Addressing AJC’s international Holocaust observance in Austin, Governor Greg Abbott cited the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and the need to educate today’s generation.
He addressed the consular corps of Texas, AJC Dallas and AJC Houston boards and the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission in the State Capitol 72 hours after returning from an overseas visit to Israel and Switzerland.
“The world must never forget the pain, the suffering endured by the Jewish people, nor the wickedness and savagery imposed upon them,” he said.
In announcing Holocaust Education Week for all public schools in Texas, the Governor said with the rise of anti-Semitic attacks he will be creating a Texas Commission on combating and monitoring anti-Semitism.
“We share in the blessings of liberty, we share in the burden of vigilance,” he said.
“And we will never forget the stories of strength and perseverance of those who did make it out alive,” Abbott added.
Abbott spoke about another task for the Texas Legislature. He said he will ask state lawmakers to adopt the international definition of anti-Semitism in the next legislative session.
AJC Director of International Jewish Affairs Rabbi Andrew Baker assisted in drafting the definition for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. It defines anti-Semitism as:
“ … A certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
The working definition provides a description of the multifaceted hatred of Jews, conspiracy theories, and Holocaust denial, and offers examples of anti-Semitism as it relates to Israel, noting that anti-Zionism is frequently a mask for anti-Semitism and Jewish communities are often targets of anti-Israel animus. The definition is an important tool for police, prosecutors and judges and for monitors and data collectors.
With 42 consuls general representing every region of the globe, he spoke of his recent visit to Yad Vashem in Israel. Governor Abbott said, “Texas will always stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters.”
In introducing Governor Abbott, Randy Czarlinsky, AJC Houston regional director, emphasized his work with AJC and the Jewish community on a number of domestic and international issues. including anti-BDS legislation, hate crimes, trade between Texas and Israel, combating human trafficking and recognizing the impact on the Texas economy and jobs for Texans resulting from U.S. foreign aid to Israel and around the world.
He added that 20 countries have adopted the international working definition of anti-Semitism.
Following the Governor’s remarks and announcements, Fred Zeidman, former chair of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council and current board member, thanked Governor Abbott for his strong relationship with the State of Israel and the Texas Jewish community. He thanked the governor for his three initiatives.
Zeidman congratulated the governor on receiving the “Friends of Zion Award” during his visit to Jerusalem last week.
Following Zeidman were the dean of the consular corps, Argentine Consul General Gabriel Volpi and Lynne Aronoff, chair, Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission.
Volpi thanked Governor Abbott for having the consular corps attend the remembrance observance and his commitment for educating the next generation.
Aronoff, thanking the governor for declaring this week Holocaust Education Week, outlined the purpose of the Commission, which was established to ensure that resources are available to students, educators, and the general public regarding the Holocaust and other genocides.
“It is a desire of the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission to forge a relationship with interested parties to coordinate or modify courses of study and awareness programs, and coordinate commemorative events,” Aronoff added.
Abbott presented the signed Holocaust Education Week Act documents to Aronoff and Czarlinsky as representatives of the Commission and AJC in recognition of their efforts to enhance Holocaust education and fight anti-Semitism.