Statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Dear DLSPH Community,
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day — a chance to remember and learn from the Shoah.
The conditions that gave rise to Nazism share much with genocides across the world and throughout history. We typically explain them by pointing to factors like political upheaval, extremist ideology and economic turmoil. But the Shoah shares another common root cause with many other genocides: racism.
Antisemitism is not just a form of religious discrimination. It can also be a form of racism. The Nazis saw Jews as an inferior race that did not belong in Germany, and their race-based ideology ultimately spared almost no racial or ethnic group.
Unfortunately, antisemitism has been on the rise again all over the world, including in Ontario, during the pandemic.
Anti-Semitism has been a concern also on U of T campuses. Recently, U of T released its Report of the Anti-Semitism Working Group, with all recommendations accepted by the University’s senior leadership. The report’s recommendations show that our community needs to do better in understanding that antisemitism is a serious problem and needs to be addressed as such. I recommend reading this valuable document.
There is no question that racism and religious discrimination, in all their forms, are of paramount importance to anyone who works, studies or teaches in any public health field. Indeed, it is worth noting that Nazism coerced the language of public health and the health professions themselves. The University offers many opportunities for us all to integrate an understanding of racism and antisemitism into our work, including this workshop on Jan. 31, which I would encourage you to attend if you can.
Please take some time today to recognize the tragedy of the Holocaust, and to consider the lessons it holds for each of us, in public health and every field.
Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown