Millions Take to Social Media in Global Campaign to Remember Holocaust
Intro: January is International Holocaust Remembrance Month and a global social media campaign is underway to bring awareness to it. “We Remember” is designed by the World Jewish Congress as an educational tool and statement against hatred. The campaign asks people to post statements and pictures with #WeRemember. In the second year of the campaign they hope to reach some 500 million people. Betty Ehrenberg is the North American Executive Director of the World Jewish Congress and she recently spoke to KNAU’s Justin Regan.
Justin Regan: What is the 'We Remember' campaign and how did it come about?
Betty Ehrenberg: The “We Remember” campaign is a social media campaign that we launched last year in 2017 in order to spread as many statements of Holocaust remembrance on social media as far and wide as we could. And the reason we did this is we have been watching with horror and alarm as anti-Semitism, racism, hatred, bigotry and discrimination against so many groups have been on the rise in so many areas of the world. And we decided that the world needed a good dose of Holocaust remembrance education.
JR: When it comes to educating people about the Holocaust and other genocides, what kind of role do you think social media plays in it? How is it changing things?
BE: I think today social media has revolutionized communications in the sense that things travel so quickly. And in truth, the World Jewish Congress has been monitoring hatred and anti-Semitism and we see it spreading like wildfire on social media. And we decided that we needed to fight back. And this we believe has a lot of potential. Last year we found 250 million statements against racism and discrimination. Which was much more than what we had ever believed or dreamed. And so this year we decided to do it again. We’re feeling really very encouraged that many people are against hatred and we think we have to magnify their voices.
JR: This campaign has reached hundreds of millions of people. What are some unique moments or stories that have come about from it?
BE: One of the most moving are when Holocaust survivors will pose with their grandchildren and will hold up a sign ‘We Remember’. And we see a family connection. We see love. It’s a very moving reminder to the world that what happened did not happen to numbers. Six million sounds like a number, it’s a number that’s very hard to wrap your head around. These were people. These were people with names. So when we see survivors who have families and the continuing generations to me it’s the most moving.
JR: How does this campaign work to turn social media posts into action?
BE: That’s a very good question, because sometimes you are hoping that it doesn’t end with just a posting to a hashtag. That this is going to inspire young people to speak to each other about it. That it will inspire teachers and educators to talk more about this in their classrooms. Young people are really are foremost hope in this. If they see on social media language condemning hatred in a language they understand, this gives us hope that the future generations will not forget. I’m a daughter of Holocaust survivors. Both my parents have passed away. We’re watching the numbers of the survivors dwindle because many of them are elderly now and who is going to be the one to tell their story? So I believe it’s very important for us to make sure that young people participate because they can bring it to the classroom and bring it to their friends.