In memory of Tom Lantos, the Holocaust survivor and a hero

Back in 2007, during my visit to the United States, I had the honor of meeting then Congressman Tom Lantos at the Capitol Hill. While entering his office, I saw a fellow Bangladeshi man sitting in the waiting room hoping of an opportunity of meeting Congressman Lantos, although his staffers did not allow him. As one of the staffers informed Congressman Tom Lantos of my presence, he immediately came out and greeted me with a warm hug. He even did not glimpse at another Bangladeshi man – Advocate Robin Ghosh, who was waiting for hours. Lantos and I entered the office room and had discussion on several issues for almost an hour. As he came out of the room to see me off, I requested Congressman Lantos to grant even one minute to the fellow Bangladeshi man. He then looked onto him and said – “Tell me”. Robin Ghosh tried to show something on his laptop and began talking about persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh. Within less than 20 seconds, Congressman Tom Lantos told Robin Ghosh – “Don’t have enough time to see these stuff”.

Congressman Tom Lantos has always been a great defender of human rights and freedom of expression. He was my best supporter – and of course a friend and brother.

Tom Lantos, who was the only Holocaust survivor in Congress, passed away on February 11, 2008. Among many other accomplishments in a three-decade congressional career, Tom Lantos led the enactment of the 2004 Global Antisemitism Review Act. Every year from 2009 to 2012 and again in 2014-2015, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) and the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice held bipartisan events in the Speaker’s Dining Room at the Capitol commemorating Tom Lantos and his legacy. The 2009 event also inaugurated the Tom Lantos Archives on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial, and reports of the Archives’ findings were presented at each of the subsequent events. The Tom Lantos Archives are the world’s largest resource on this subject, featuring materials from Arabic, Farsi, Urdu/Pashtu, Turkish, and Dari media.

In a statement the Middle Easter Media Research Institute said:

Today in 2023, the scourge of antisemitism and Holocaust denial is in an unprecedented surge and amid this explosion of antisemitism in the United States and the world, we are renewing our initiative, and resume our annual activities. As we move toward new projects we wanted to issue a retrospective of our many speakers. This compilation reviews some of the statements by the speakers who participated over the years. Leaders from both sides of the aisle participating in the events included: then senators John McCain (R-AZ), John Kerry (D-MI), then Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and George Voinovich (R-OH); and House Representatives then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), then House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), then House majority leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), then House minority whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). State Department officials, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum directors, Muslim And Arab reformists, and other notable cultural figures such as Nobel laureate and MEMRI board member Elie Wiesel spoke at the events as well. Then vice president Joe Biden, then secretary of state Hillary Clinton, as well as then house speaker John Boehner (R-OH), then Chair of the House Republican Conference Mike Pence (R-IN), and other members of Congress sent letters conveying their support.

Then vice president Joe Biden wrote in a letter: “I am honored to pay tribute to the collaborative effort of the Lantos Foundation and the Middle East Media Research Institute. The Lantos Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial Archives will help future generations understand why we confront injustice, why we defend human rights, and why we honor all that Tom Lantos stood for.” Then secretary of state Hillary Clinton wrote: “I commend the vital work of the Tom Lantos Archives on Anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial… These archives are an ongoing source of documentation of the high levels of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial that persists in writing, broadcasting, teaching and preaching in various parts of the world. Through the work of the Lantos Archives, policy makers, the media, academics, opinion leaders, and civil society can become aware of these human rights violations.”

Expressing sentiments that would be echoed by many who would speak at the events in the years to come, then Israeli Ambassador Sallai Meridor said at the 2009 event: “Tom had only two daughters but many of us always felt like his children. There is not a day that I do not  miss Tom Lantos, his vision, his clarity of mind, his courage, his standing by his values and hope… I could not think of a more fitting day to have this dedication than a day after Holocaust memorial day because, if Tom dedicated his life for one thing, it is that such horrible atrocities would not ever happen again against any human being, a Jew, a Muslim, a Christian, a Hindu… One human race. and it is also so fitting this happens together and done by MEMRI. I said there is not a day I do not think about Tom Lantos; there is not a day I do not watch MEMRI’s messages and information… I cannot think of a better, more important organization than MEMRI that just allows people worldwide to learn about what’s going on in a very important area of the world, critical to the national security of the United States of America, of Western societies, of Israel and other countries. It is such a great privilege to see that MEMRI, with such great contribution, is dedicating their work and their archives to the memory of our beloved Tom Lantos.”

In speeches at events over the years, Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, daughter of Tom Lantos, said: “[my father] often said that the veneer of civilization is paper thin. We are its guardians and we can never sleep. MEMRI and the Lantos Foundation remain ever watchful, ever waitful, and ever vigilant in defense of human rights, justice, and the civilized world in which each human being is respected and protected… My old boss, Joe Biden… used to say that sunlight was the best disinfectant, that exposing evils to the bright light of day was the best way to deal with them. And that really is the task of the Lantos Archives… We at the Lantos Archives, and at MEMRI, are actually in the sunlight business. Through the extraordinary work that our partner, MEMRI, does day in and day out, we are exposing the vile and pervasive anti-Semitism that lies at the heart of so much of the Middle East, and beyond… Speaking for our family, and the Lantos Foundation… We pledge we will never rest… The times are dark. The circumstances are frightening. And storm clouds have not only gathered, but they have broken and broken in places where we thought that this old dark hatred of antisemitism had been defeated.”

In a speech at the 2009 event, MEMRI president and founder Yigal Carmon said: “Over six years ago I had the honor of becoming acquainted with Congressman Tom Lantos and of being inspired by his great personality and dedication to the cause of fighting antisemitism and Holocaust denial…. over the past decade, MEMRI’s antisemitism documentation project has amassed the largest archives in the world of this material translated into English and numerous other languages. These archives, which we are dedicating today to the memory of Congressman Tom Lantos, will serve the following purposes. They will support government efforts to fight this phenomenon, both by the state department and by the government and the legislatures worldwide. it will support Congress’s efforts to fight antisemitism and Holocaust denial through legislation and other means. It will serve academia in its research and other educational purposes and particularly the great efforts of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. It will serve the media in its exposure of this phenomenon and it will amplify the voices of liberals in the Arab world who bravely speak out against antisemitism and Holocaust denial and who, in the face of public intimidation, refuse to be silenced.”

Senators John McCain, John Kerry, Harry Reid, Bill Nelson, And George Voinovich

Senators who spoke at the events included the late senator John McCain, who was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee; then senator John Kerry, who was the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee; then senator Harry Reid, who led the Senate Democratic Caucus and was the Senate majority leader; then senator Bill Nelson; and then senator George Voinovich. The senators fondly remembered the late Tom Lantos and spoke of the persistent menace of antisemitism, the attacks that result from it, and the need to respond to and prevent these attacks. They discussed how speech is the first step to incitement for such attacks and praised the critical work that MEMRI and the Lantos Foundation have done in documenting antisemitism.

Speaking at the 2015 event, then senator John McCain said: “My friends, this is a momentous time to be speaking on antisemitism. As we look around the world, we encounter upheaval and conflict like never before… Many of the threats emerging from these crises are new and unprecedented. Some we know all too well. From Paris to Brussels and back to the very heartland of Germany, we see the specter of antisemitism re-emerging throughout Europe. The kosher grocery store massacre in Paris; the murder of a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse; attackers throwing Molotov cocktails at a synagogue in Wuppertal, Germany; and the terrorist attack that killed four at the Jewish Museum in Brussels are just a few of the most prominent attacks in a long list of growing violence directed towards the Jewish community. While the horror of these attacks have rightly shocked the world’s conscience and drawn the condemnation of many world leaders, there have also been smaller, less-noticed incidents that suggest that perhaps antisemitism never really left us: small protests in Germany where marchers yelled ‘Gas the Jews’; a shop owner in Belgium who posted a sign saying he would serve dogs but not Jews; and a conductor on a Brussels commuter train who announced a stop at Auschwitz and jokingly ordered all Jews to disembark…

“After so many years of expressing regrets and pledging never again, could it be that we are witnessing a resurgence of antisemitism in our political and economic discourse and that such remarks and actions are becoming increasingly acceptable? For a millennium, a poisonous hatred of Jews, including persecution, expulsions, and massacres, were common practice in Europe and elsewhere around the world. Only after the shame of the Holocaust did antisemitism become intolerable… Expressions of outrage and promises to fight against antisemitism with all means at our disposal, while necessary, bring little comfort… All governments, including our own, must be bold in our outrage when we see antisemitism and categorically condemn its expression even when doing so is inconvenient or unpleasant. We must, moreover, fully investigate and prosecute incidents of antisemitic violence, publish accurate data on attacks, and work with Jewish communities to assess their security needs and provide protection against violence, including training police and prosecutors and forging productive relationships between law enforcement and affected communities. Such measures will help address antisemitism, racist, and violent ideologies, but it’s only a start. The need for a broad engagement strategy is urgent and we must do more to challenge those purveyors of hate.

“Make no mistake, there are powerful reasons for America and Europe to prevent the spread of virulent antisemitism in the name of our collective national security interest and the preservation of our democratic values. We are deluding ourselves if we believe we can be complacent about rising antisemitism and its propagators without witnessing a weakening of democracy and security around the world. Put simply, these attacks should not just be a source of heartbreak and sympathy to us. They should be a source of moral outrage and a call to action. History has taught us that antisemitism is not just a threat to the Jewish community; it is a threat to who we are and who we aspire to be as a people and as nations. Failure to meet the threat posed by rising antisemitism risks unraveling the incredible progress we have made in the wake of World War II toward building a just and peaceful world order based on respect for inalienable rights and dignity. Education is the first step. This is where the Tom Lantos Archives on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial play such an invaluable role in disseminating vital and accurate information to create an informed public. But as we recall the horrors of the past, we must recognize that remembrance and awareness are only the start, not the end of our responsibility to confront evil, defend truth, and unite in the face of threats to our peace and security.”

Then senator John Kerry said at the 2010 event: “History is full of these very painful reminders of how hatred left unchallenged translates into active hatred. Words of hatred become acts of violence. Hate speech, whether it’s antisemitic or anti-gay or anti-black or anti-Islamic, all of it is the first step to incitement. And it could be the Hutu on the radio or it could be a nazi pamphleteer, or it could be a terrorist whispering in some young person’s ear somewhere in the world. But if you listen carefully to history on the eve of the darkest chapters of history, you’ll hear the voices that were teaching people to reject, and teaching people to hate… This Lantos antisemitism Holocaust denial archive created by the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, and the Middle East Media Research Institute, is an attempt to call attention to the antisemitism across the Middle East and to tell people it’s got to stop… MEMRI is to be commended for its continued efforts in joining in this.”

Speaking at the 2012 event, then senator Harry Reid said: “I was happy to come here today because it gave me the chance to reflect with you [on] what a beautiful human being Tom Lantos was… Today, let me just share one experience that I had. Senator Daschle and I with a number of other senators had traveled to see what was going on in the Balkans. And our place, so we could move around to different countries, was… Hungary. And we spent more than a week there, in and out of Hungary. During part of that time, we met up with Tom Lantos. He spent the better part of a day taking us around and showing us where some of the things that had happened to him when he was trying to escape, and did escape on a number of occasions, the Nazis. That was a wonderful tutorial. It was for us, taught not only by a college professor, but someone who had survived the Holocaust…. It is important that people are – even [if] sometimes they do not want to be – reminded of what took place in the Holocaust, and people who deny it should be reminded that what they’re talking about is absolutely false, misleading, and untrue…”

Bill Nelson, then senator (D-FL) and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said at the 2014 event: “It was during that time in the House that I had the privilege of serving with Tom Lantos… he introduced legislation that had enormous influence that spanned the globe… Tom led the charge to criticize the government of Iraq over the treatment of Kurdish refugees… On the subject of antisemitism, Tom’s voice was one that everybody listened to. He condemned acts of antisemitism wherever, from the Former Soviet Union to the United Nations, using every tool that he had… what is emerging is clear. We all need to do more to reverse and eradicate such human brutality… if [Tom Lantos] were here today, he would ask us to do more, which is to bring people together, to find the common bonds of decency in each of us and bring us together as a people, as a human race.”

Speaking at the 2009 event, then senator George Voinovich said: “Tom sponsored in the House and I sponsored it in the Senate the global antisemitism Bill which really recognized the fact that the state department needed to provide some attention to the issue of antisemitism. and, of course, Tom worked very, very hard with the OSCE [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] on a long battle to bring antisemitism to the attention of the OSCE and also the office of democratic institution and Human rights. and I think all of us know that today the challenge is as great as it’s ever been. I think that what you are doing here today is an example of a thing that will make an impact on individuals. I think the fact that you’re also devoting this not only to what Tom’s legacy is and his archives, but also recognizing what’s happened in the Muslim community in terms of antisemitism. The matter is that unless we recognize what is happening in that community around the world, we are having our heads in the sand… He did work with republicans and democrats to make a difference. and we have to understand that the issue of antisemitism is not a matter of history but a current event.”

Congressional Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, Steny Hoyer, Brad Sherman, And Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

House representatives who spoke at the events included: Nancy Pelosi, who was then leader of the House Democratic Caucus and speaker of the United States House of Representatives; Paul Ryan, who was then chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and had been the 2012 vice presidential nominee; then house majority leader Steny Hoyer; then minority whip Eric Cantor; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who was then then chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and congressman Brad Sherman. The speakers reminisced about Tom Lantos, praised the Lantos Foundation, MEMRI, and the Lantos Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial Archives, emphasized the importance of remaining vigilant against antisemitism, and discussed the pressure on Jewish students in the United States, and possible steps to address that pressure.

Speaking at the 2009 event, then speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi said: “With his example, brilliance, eloquence, commitment, and dedication Tom Lantos left us a legacy and a responsibility, and that is why his cause is now our cause, and that is why his work – the work of the Lantos Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial Archives is so important to all of us. The work will go on, the observances occur but the challenge remains after the observances. and the work of Tom Lantos lives in all of us and we have to answer to him, and that’s a pretty tough challenge for all of us. So on behalf of members of Congress on both sides of the aisle where he was so highly respected in both Houses of Congress, and for the many people that may never have heard his name, he lives on… His effort was respected throughout the world and that is why I am so pleased that these archives will recognize his special work in that regard.”

Paul Ryan, Representative (R-WI), 2012 vice presidential nominee and then chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said at the 2015 event: “I got to know Tom. I think we overlapped about a decade in Congress, and I was a young newcomer to Congress and he was this icon, this giant of a man, Tom Lantos… Tom was just one of the most gracious people I ever served with… When Tom Lantos spoke, everybody stopped, everyone listened, and everybody knew that it came from the heart. There wasn’t an ounce of malice in the man’s mind, in the man’s voice… I wish the mission of the Foundation was already fulfilled. It would just be nice to say that this was not necessary. That is not the world we live in. I mean it is kind of astounding to think that someone could deny the Holocaust. It is kind of astounding to think that after what all the things we experienced in the 20th century that we would be reliving these, that we would have to retell these stories, but it is what it is. When you hear the kinds of rhetoric coming from places like Iran, it just shows us that the mission is all that much more important, that Tom’s legacy, which was a bipartisan legacy, is one that needs to be amplified even more.”

Then house majority leader Steny Hoyer said at the 2009 event: “Tom Lantos was a giant voice in this country and throughout the world for the teachings of our faith, of love and tolerance, understanding and inclusion. if we forget, we will repeat because, tragically, human beings, unfortunately, are all too willing to have prejudice harbored in their heart against those who are different. Tom Lantos had as his mission in life (a) that we not forget and (b) that we show tolerance, love, and understanding… The archives are about remembrance, but more importantly they are about ensuring that in remembering we do not repeat the violence of the past… Tom Lantos would be a strong and compelling voice to have us remember that fact as well. Thank you, Tom Lantos.”

Then minority whip Eric Cantor, said at the 2009 event: “I cannot think of a more fitting occasion on which to unveil the effort of the Lantos Foundation and the archives in connection with the work – the tremendous work that MEMRI does on behalf of peace, on behalf of justice and on behalf of human rights… The Middle East Media Research Institute, under Yigal’s leadership, has played such a tremendous role in making sure that the truth is told and making sure that we hold accountable voices around the world and in particular in those regions of the world that don’t have a lot of transparency, that, frankly, do not have the privilege of having the truth uncovered every day. And it is that search of truth and justice that Tom Lantos was always about. That’s what we, as members of this body, always felt when he took to the floor to make his position known. We knew it came from the heart, we knew it was the truth and we knew from where it came given his tremendous life experience.”

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who was then then chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said at the 2011 event: “I had the extreme privilege and rare honor of serving with Congressman Tom Lantos when he chaired our Foreign affairs committee and I was its ranking member… Tom was deeply committed, as all of us know, to the fight against antisemitism and holocaust denial, and sadly that still goes on, incredibly so… and so two years ago, the Tom Lantos Foundation which was established by Tom’s amazing Annette after he passed away, teamed up with the Middle East Media Research Institute to establish this archive. And these archives chronicle antisemitism and holocaust denial in the Middle East and elsewhere, and they provide us the tools that we need to fight this venom. These translated documents provide important first-hand information regarding the surge of global antisemitism. and additionally these archives honor those in the Muslim and Arab worlds who bravely combat antisemitism. The fight against the antisemitism and holocaust denial is far from over, and we see these dangers, ever-present, throughout the world. But these archives are indicative of the fact that we have the tools to fight this fight successfully… so we must reaffirm and ensure that ‘never again’ is not an expression of the past, as sacred as it is, but it is a sacred responsibility of today. It is a call to action… Thanks to everyone involved in the Lantos Foundation and the Middle East Media Research Institute, we will continue, however humbly, to carry on Tom’s fight and advance his legacy. so I thank you for this event today, I thank you for the encouragement that it gives us to reaffirm that the battle’s joined, the battle continues, the fight rages on, and it is up to each and every one of us to counter those denials.”

Congressman Brad Sherman said at the 2015 event: “The pressure on Jewish students on campuses around this country is a problem… After tremendous pressure, the U.S. Department of Education issued a ruling to say that Title VI of our Civil Rights Law, which applies to color and creed – correction, you know, race and national origin, also applies to antisemitism. Anyone looking at bigotry in this country and around the world would certainly list antisemitism… What we need to do as our next step is to get the Department of Education to adopt a definition of antisemitism because saying you’re against antisemitism without saying what antisemitism is, is saying you are not going to do much.”

State Department Officials Stuart Eizenstat, Hannah Rosenthal, Ira Foreman, And Kay Mayfield

State Department officials who spoke at the events included: Stuart Eizenstat, former U.S. ambassador to the European Union and member of the MEMRI Board of Advisors; Hannah Rosenthal, then State Department special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism; Ira Foreman, State Department special envoy to monitor & combat antisemitism; and Kay Mayfield, then deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the State Department. The speakers emphasized MEMRI’s importance and its role in the formation of the 2004 Global Antisemitism Review Act, the enactment of which Tom Lantos led and which led to the establishment of a new office within the State Department devoted to monitoring antisemitism and the appointment of a special representative on combating antisemitism. Rosenthal, who filled that role at the time, discussed her work, and her use of MEMRI’s materials in the position. Foreman, who occupied the position later, emphasized the same, and talked about the rise of antisemitism in Europe.

Stuart Eizenstat, former U.S. ambassador to the European Union and member of the MEMRI Board of Advisors, said at the 2012 event: “Tom Lantos was my friend, my mentor, my hero, my inspiration. And MEMRI, grandly led by Yigal Carmon, is a critically important institution with which I have been associated for many years, and whose 24/7 blanket objective coverage of the era of the Muslim media is an indispensable tool for governments around the world, policy makers, and citizens seeking to better understand the direction of the Arab and Muslim world… During those years, his work with MEMRI was also legendary, because MEMRI provided the materials which Tom depended on to combat antisemitism and Holocaust denial. Not simply by words, but by deeds, because it was Tom’s legislation against antisemitism, fed again by the information from MEMRI, that led to the 2004 Global Antisemitism Review Act, which called for the monitoring, and combating of antisemitism, and established an office within the State Department – ironically within the State Department, which I served for many years, because it was the State Department’s inaction which led to many Jewish refugees being unable to find safety on these shores. But in this office, there is now a special representative on combating antisemitism, now ably headed by Hannah Rosenthal, our special envoy to combat and monitor antisemitism. And this is the only country in the world in which there is a major senior figure devoted solely to monitoring and combating antisemitism. That speaks well of this country, but it speaks well of Tom’s leadership as well. I want to talk to you today about a new form of antisemitism. But before I do, we cannot leave the more traditional forms either, because they continue to rear their ugly head in Europe, as Katrina mentioned. What is perhaps different from the pre-World War II and World War II eras is that now, as a result of Tom’s leadership, and of the elevation of the issue of antisemitism, leaders take action. For example, France has made antisemitic acts a punishable hate crime. Under Tony Blair, the U.K. established a special commission, the McShane Commission, to review the scourge of antisemitic acts occurring against school children in Great Britain. And Germany, for decades, has made Holocaust denial a crime. So while traditional antisemitism has been by no means erased, it has at least been combated… And I want to stress now a new form of antisemitism aimed at delegitimizing Israel as a Jewish state. With Jews worldwide as targets and servants for anger and violence against Israel. This is different from the antisemitism that is religious based, which Annette and Tom faced in Hungary, and which almost took their lives. This antisemitism is cloaked as anti-Zionism, and it takes many different forms… This insidious form of new antisemitism employs symbols, and images, and a language equating Zionism and racism, as at the Durban conference, suggesting that Israel practices apartheid, depicting Israeli soldiers with Nazi swastikas. This new antisemitism has now been adopted in different forms by some European labor unions, calling for boycotts of Israeli products, Palestinian advocates on college campuses, and some academics… MEMRI has found some signs of less virulent anti-Israel rhetoric in Saudi Arabia.”

Hannah Rosenthal, State Department special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, said at the 2011 event: “I thank the important work that MEMRI does in partnership with the Lantos Foundation For human rights and Justice, and of course thank you to speaker Boehner for hosting us today. As the president’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism in the State Department, I am charged with both monitoring antisemitic incidents and with combating such intolerance… I have been tracking antisemitism around the world and have witnessed its alarming presence and growth… I have dedicated my life to eradicating antisemitism and intolerance of all kinds, with a sense of urgency and passion… It is  important to recognize efforts of individuals, of government officials, of religious leaders and organizations who speak out against intolerance. Just as the Tom Lantos archives encourages Muslims to speak out against antisemitism and holocaust denial, I have sought to work with all members of society regardless of religious affiliation to promote inter-religious and inter-ethnic dialogue and action. And I believe having non-Jews condemning antisemitism is far more powerful. As it is when I, as a Jew, condemn hatred of Muslims or Christians or any other vulnerable populations… This MEMRI report will serve as an effective tool to other religious and educators to address that hatred and condemn it. and I cannot put into words how useful the materials you produce are to the work I do as special envoy… I have had the opportunity and the honor in this great job of mine to meet with ministers of education, ministers of culture, of information. and I have focused on the Saudi textbooks. and I got the commitments and I will take them at their word right now, that the language that MEMRI exposes will be changed… and everywhere I have gone, it is been because of the documentation, that I have thanks to MEMRI and to the Lantos Foundation that I am able to show people the reality, the documents, the clips, the words, the quotes. so that people cannot look me in the eye and say we have no antisemitism – never have, never will… I identify with his resolve to promote mutual respect and tolerance, and I hope that I can continue with the same kind of commitment and dignity that Tom Lantos gave to the subject; gave to creating my job, and gave to the world in demanding that people learn history so that they can learn from it. Thank you all for all the good work you are doing.”

Ira Foreman, State Department special envoy to monitor & combat antisemitism, said at the 2014 event: “I want to start by thanking MEMRI. One-half of the job that I do is monitor antisemitism. The other half, of course, is combating. And in the monitoring piece, the MEMRI material that we get on an ongoing basis and every year is vital to our work and is reflected in a lot of the reports you’ll see, the two most important government reports I think that come out every year, the Human Rights Report, which we should see in February, and the International Religious Freedom Report… In Europe today we see parliamentary parties with significant representation who are openly xenophobic, openly antisemitic…

Already I have heard from two of the speakers who talked about the bipartisanship. In a time when we have very little bipartisanship, the question of antisemitism is one of the classic bipartisan issues… And we have a representative here, I see at least one, from the Holocaust Museum, which is an institution that did not exist for most of these last 70 years and yet does amazing work every day. In the same way I use MEMRI’s information, I rely on the Holocaust weekly to help us fight this fight because what they are about is historical truth. And to fight antisemitism you need not just historical truth, you need other tools, but it is the beginning because if you cannot accept what happened in the past, you can’t fight what’s happening now… In France this weekend, those of you who go to You Tube, 17,000 people on the street, an anti-government demonstration, and I see a beautiful exposé here in MEMRI put out on Dieudonné. But 17,000 people, many of them supporting Dieudonné, anti-government, many of them with their modified Nazi salute, yelling out through the streets, ‘Jews, France is not yours. Jews, France is not yours,’… then looking today at the MEMRI website and seeing all these cartoons that I had seen before under the title of ‘Dehumanizing Jews in Cartoons,’ the Jew as vermin, rats, flies, cockroaches… And the other final thing is I always like the saying of one Jewish scholar, one sage, Rabbi Tarfon, who said that we’re not expected to complete the task, but neither are we absolved from beginning it. So, thank you all for beginning it.”

Kay Mayfield, deputy assistant secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor at the State Department, said at the 2009 event:

“Promoting tolerance is essential to building a world of freedom and peace. may every conscience remember that antisemitism is always wrong and is always dangerous, may every voice speak out against antisemitism and may all of us have the civic courage to take action against antisemitism and other forms of intolerance whenever and wherever they arise. The report itself characterizes antisemitism as a form of malicious intolerance that violates the precepts of human dignity and equality that are fundamental to a free and peaceful society. unfortunately, the fact that we published this report shows that this is not simply a part of history, it’s part of the present day.

For our part, the department of state is committed to actively applying the tools of diplomacy to combat antisemitism at the national, regional and global level… our work compliments that of the Lantos archives in all of these efforts and we look forward to working together to share and analyze information. The Lantos archives will be a valuable addition to the global body of information on Holocaust denial and other forms of antisemitism. We trust that this resource will make a positive contribution to replacing ignorance with fact, hatred with tolerance and conflict with cooperation. Thank you very much.”

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Directors Sara Bloomfield, Paul Shapiro, And Michael Gruenenberger

Speakers from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum included: Sara J. Bloomfield, director of the museum; Paul Shapiro, director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the museum; and Michael Gruenenberger, Director of Collections at the museum. The speakers emphasized the significance of the work of the Lantos Foundation and MEMRI, discussed the legacy of Tom Lantos and his understanding of “the need for frequent and powerful reminders to an often-complacent country about the fragility of democracy, the nature of hate, and the danger of indifference.”

Sara J. Bloomfield, director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, said at the 2011 event: “At its peak Auschwitz was gassing 10,000 Jews a day. [Today,] we know that this can be accomplished in a second. That is why complacency is such a dangerous thing and why the work of the Lantos Foundation for human rights and Justice and MEMRI is so very significant. Surviving the holocaust gave Tom Lantos an understanding of human nature that the rest of us can only imagine. It gave him the insight that the unthinkable is of course indeed thinkable… And it gave him a special empathy for the oppressed. it gave him also a moral platform for his actions. Tom understood the need for frequent and powerful reminders to an often-complacent country about the fragility of democracy, the nature of hate, and the danger of indifference. Tom Lantos had a keen understanding of the world. He once said, and I want to read this quote, ‘It’s a sad commentary on the absurdity of our times that an event so profoundly documented as the holocaust would need to be reemphasized as a reality.’

Now you might have thought that was said recently by Tom Lantos, but he said that back in 1996. Tom was on the front lines of many battles for human rights and many important issues. Today, all of us, everyone here in this room, is on the front lines in what I call the battle for truth, as we witness these constant assaults against truth. And that is what MEMRI is fighting for every day to protect the truth and to expose the truth… The partnership between the Lantos Foundation and MEMRI comes at a time of great urgency join in the talents of these two fine organizations is an enormous contribution to our understanding with the problem of antisemitism, which after many difficult years and the murder of six million Jews still plagues mankind.”

Paul Shapiro, director of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, said at the 2009 event: “The work of MEMRI, the film Denial, provides a glimpse into media treatment of the Holocaust in the Islamic world, in the Middle East in particular. The images and language are powerful and you have already witnessed that. What is on the air in the Middle East makes it possible for us to understand, though of course not condone, why it is that Holocaust denial, the hatred of Jews and of Israel and of the Western values that we so cherish and that Hitler sought to destroy by destroying the people who brought those values to the world, are so widespread in that volatile region… We are honored to have MEMRI material on exhibition at our museum and look forward to working in partnership with MEMRI and the new Lantos archives. There is, as Tom Lantos would be telling us in his very special, very direct way, (and if you experienced it, you know), there is much to be done. Ladies and gentlemen, MEMRI is defining the challenge. We all have to rise up and respond to it.”

Michael Gruenenberger, director of Collections at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, said at the 2010 event: “Congressman Lantos was really a great friend and supporter of the museum. He served on our council from 1990 through 1997, and again from 1999 until his death… I feel especially privileged to have met him on a number of occasions.

According to a recent Tel Aviv University study, the number of anti-Semitic incidents around the world more than doubled from 2008 to 2009. We know this at the museum very well. Antisemitism struck very close to home this past year when the museum lost a beloved security officer, Officer Steven Johns, who was murdered by an anti-Semitic racist, a neo-nazi, in a senseless act of violence… Much of it is complementary to what MEMRI is doing… Like MEMRI, we are also involved in translation work which we make available via the web, and which we see as critical if we are to reach a global audience…. [Tom Lantos] stood up for those who were oppressed and persecuted, and he was an impassioned supporter of human rights. Clearly, Congressman Tom Lantos made a difference and what he did truly mattered. Thank you again for inviting the museum to be part of this.”

Muslim And Arab Reformists Dr. Lofti Maktouf, Hassen Chalghoumi, Mehnaz Afridi, And The Late Khaleel Mohammed

Muslim and Arab reformists who spoke at the events included: Tunisian-French Scholar Dr. Lofti Maktouf; Hassen Chalghoumi, imam of the Drancy mosque in Paris; Professor Mehnaz Afridi, Pakistan-born director of Manhattan College’s Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center; and the late Dr. Khaleel Mohammed, associate professor of religion at San Diego State University. The speakers emphasized the significance of the work MEMRI and the Lantos foundation and highlighted MEMRI’s role amplifying the voices of reformers in the Middle East, discussed the antisemitism in the Middle East and the civil society campaigns being carried out against it, and called for laws against incitement to racism, antisemitism, and Holocaust denial resembling those in place in many European countries.

Tunisian-French Scholar Dr. Lofti Maktouf said at the 2014 event: “What does MEMRI do so remarkably well? Precisely, creating a bridge. As painful as it can be, and it is very painful, it tells the West look, guys, this is what some people are conveying. This is the type of message that is coming out. But that bridge that MEMRI puts [out there] is not a one-way bridge. It is a return also in two ways… What MEMRI is doing is only one part of the equation. The other is education. We have done so much in the three years we have been active in Tunisia… It is thanks to the civil society work in what we do and the campaigns we lead with respect to antisemitism… Do not think that all what MEMRI is doing is just coming from satellite TV [that’s] very easy to tap. Sometimes it’s very difficult to just get into these private video recordings, especially for someone who does not live there.”

Hassen Chalghoumi, imam of the Drancy mosque in Paris, said at the 2015 event: “In the name of Allah, the All-Compassionate, the All-Merciful. I would like first to thank both MEMRI and the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice for extending their gracious invitation to me to speak at this important annual event. I am honored to participate in the commemoration of Tom Lantos, who throughout his life fought against antisemitism and Holocaust denial and championed the cause of human rights and justice worldwide… There must be laws enacted in America that protect us from this abuse and forbid it, similar to those that were passed in Europe after the Europeans endured the bitter consequences resulting from ideologies such as Nazism and Fascism. In Europe, incitement to racism, antisemitism, and Holocaust denial are criminal offenses, even when no explicit action is taken to realize it… The third battlefront is the mosques, in many of which there is incitement to antisemitism, hate, and ultimately, violence… For those who I often hear asking, ‘Where are the Muslim reformers?’ I would like to direct their attention to MEMRI. This research institute, which I value so highly, makes the world aware of both faces of Islam today – the one that incites violence and hatred toward others, and the other that advocates reform, peace, and fraternity among all religions.”

Professor Mehnaz Afridi, Pakistan-born director of Manhattan College’s Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center, said at the 2012 event: “Antisemitism is everywhere. Lurking in the streets of Cairo as the revolution unfolds, in the alleyways of Karachi as drone attacks are deployed. In the minarets of Saudi Arabia as women are dismayed. In Damascus as tanks roll in and in Tehran as a president calls for Holocaust denial. Antisemitism is everywhere. Like smog that looms in the air, thick, dirty and hard to breathe in. Even in Karachi where I was born, the Jews are everywhere, although they have not lived there as a community for several decades. As a Pakistani-American woman, this is my challenge. And by now the familiar themes of European antisemitism, the blood libel, the Protocols of Zion, the international Jewish conspiracy, and the rest have become standard fare in much of the Muslim world. In the schoolroom, the pulpit, the media and even at the butcher’s in the Karachi marketplace – who as I recall blamed bird flu on Jews for spreading their disease. I was able to take the poster down and talk to them, but how can I talk to so many?… As a Muslim, aware of the antisemitism and Holocaust denial in many parts of the Muslim world, I was dismayed, frustrated and sad. And more importantly, I was troubled at the silence of non-Jews about antisemitism… As a minority, I’m privileged to hold these positions, but the crucial fact remains that I have dedicated my life to speaking out against antisemitism and Holocaust denial. Working hard to stop antisemitism, I have discovered there are many positive ways to bring this education to the Muslim world: through speaking the truth, rejecting antisemitism, learning the history, and sharing the positive role of Muslims during the Holocaust. As Tom Lantos once said, ‘We are optimistic but we are optimistic in a cautious fashion.’ I, too, am optimistic in a cautious fashion. So in my cautiousness and optimism, I decided I wanted to meet with survivors and interview them. I wanted to listen to them and talk with them about antisemitism… We must acknowledge that antisemitism has taken on many forms throughout the years.”

The late Dr. Khaleel Mohammed, associate professor of religion at San Diego State University, said at the 2011 event: “Tom Lantos said the veneer of civilization is paper thin. Well, hate and technology in the service of hate now made that veneer very, very porous. so, you’re just not fighting to protect it but to understand what has already been done to it. again, I do not know how to get the message across any stronger, but antisemitism is just not a matter of something, it is a social call we take up. It is something that is there, it is something that is gaining in momentum. [late International Union Of Muslim Scholars Head Sheikh] Yousef Al-Qaradhawi spoke of the continued business to be finished with the annihilation of the Jews. I cannot say more to you except that please let us not surrender, and to remember that not all Muslims share in this nonsense about annihilating the Jews.”

Other Speakers – Elie Wiesel, Samuel Pisar, And Caroline Fourest

Other speakers included Nobel Prize Laureate and MEMRI Board Member Elie Wiesel; Samuel Pisar, UNESCO honorary ambassador and special envoy for Holocaust education; and Caroline Fourest, French author, journalist, activist, and former contributor to Charlie Hebdo and Le Monde. The speakers praised MEMRI’s work in documenting antisemitism, remembered Tom Lantos, discussed the ever-present scourge of antisemitism, and warned: “This new hydra of violence and terror is spreading its tentacles in many directions.”

Nobel Prize Laureate and MEMRI Board Member Elie Wiesel said in a video statement prepared for the 2014 event: “MEMRI is an important organization. It is because it gives information that can be found in very few other places. It is  always well-documented. It always gives us an insight into an area – which is disturbing – the other side, those who are not our allies, those who are not our friends, those who are not with us. And so, thanks to MEMRI, we know what they think, what they plan, and this is actually what MEMRI is all about… So, in the years, of course what MEMRI has tried to do is to give us the historical background… Whatever we see now simply cannot be judged in the present, we must go beyond it, and above it, not without it, ever. MEMRI, I believe, is essential… in the world. We need to know more. And this is MEMRI, it always gives us more. So, what we think of MEMRI, we all can say with gratitude that we are glad, we are happy, we are grateful, that MEMRI exists.”

UNESCO Honorary Ambassador and Special Envoy for Holocaust Education Samuel Pisar said at the 2012 event: “I wish Congressman Tom Lantos could be with us today. I was fortunate to know that exceptional personality whose family perished in Auschwitz, like mine. Indeed, I recall one poignant encounter during which he asked me what I had witnessed there in 1944, as a 15-year-old prisoner, as the Nazis murdered more than 400,000 Jews brought by cattle-trains from his native Hungary. That was after the Normandy landings, when the genocidal machine was gassing innocents at the rate of 10,000 per day. I say this to throw some light on what motivated Congressman Lantos’ noble, life-long efforts to ensure that such horrors never happen again. Antisemitism, whether religious, racial or ideological, has been a scourge since time immemorial. But in our turbulent era, which began in September 2001, it is taking on a different character… In some ways this new antisemitism is a synonym for anti-Zionism, and targets Jews in the Diaspora, no less than in Israel… Faced with this, one is tempted to ask if the MEMRI and Lantos archives should not extend the scope of their precious research and analysis to these increasingly troubled locations. This new hydra of violence and terror is spreading its tentacles in many directions.”

French author, journalist, activist, and former contributor to Charlie Hebdo and Le Monde Caroline Fourest said at the 2015 event: “In order to reduce Islamophobia, we need to fight against terrorism, and Islamophobia will be reduced. We want to fight against antisemitism? We also have to fight fanaticism and terrorism. It is as simple as that. We have to fight against speech inciting to hatred and we need to stop confusing between [hate speech] and freedom of expression. In the same way we need to stop confusing between freedom of expression – including the right to blasphemy – and racism. [Blasphemy] is the most joyful way to resist fanaticism. Because this is a war we can only win with clear minds, with clear words… It is a war to fight with our minds by being clever. When we start confusing blasphemy with racism and when we start tolerating incitement to hatred – like antisemitism – in the name of freedom of expression, we become weak, we become targets, and we become stupid, cowardly allies of terrorism. And this is what we have to stop.”

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