Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
April 16, 2023
Good afternoon. My name is Linda Thomas-Greenfield. I am the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and I am honored to be here among all of you today, particularly with the survivors and their descendants.
I want to thank President Kliger, and the entire team at the Museum of Jewish Heritage for bringing us together to commemorate Yom HaShoah.
Earlier this month, the world lost Ben Ferencz, the last living Nuremberg trials prosecutor. As a U.S. war crimes investigator during World War II, Ferencz was a witness to the horrors of the Holocaust.
Decades later, he would write, and I quote: “Even today, when I close my eyes, I witness a deadly vision I can never forget. The crematoria aglow with the fire of burning flesh, the mounds of emaciated corpses stacked like cordwood waiting to be burned … I had peered into Hell.”
After the war, Ferencz – at the ripe age of 27 – successfully prosecuted Nazi leaders who carried out these crimes against humanity.
But his quest for justice did not end with Nuremberg. He would go on to secure compensation for victims of the Holocaust. And he devoted the rest of his life to preventing future crimes against humanity, advocating for the ICC, and rooting out all forms of hate.
Now, it is our responsibility to carry his legacy forward – especially as we see antisemitism and Holocaust denial rise to terrifying heights. Antisemitism has been called the world’s oldest form of hatred. Once again, it is threatening the safety and security of Jewish people. At this perilous moment, we must all stand with the Jewish community.
And the Biden Administration is deeply committed to this urgent work. Last year, President Biden announced that we were launching a national strategy for countering antisemitism. And our Administration has secured the largest-ever funding increase for the physical security of non-profits – including synagogues and Jewish Community Centers.
Here in New York, we helped pass a UN General Assembly resolution to condemn Holocaust denial and distortion – the first resolution of its kind in fifteen years.
And earlier this year, the United States hosted a high-level side event at the United Nations that put a focus on global efforts to combat antisemitism. This meeting was widely attended by UN Ambassadors and senior UN and U.S. officials. I was privileged to represent the United States alongside Second Gentleman Emhoff and Deborah Lipstadt, the first Ambassador-level Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism.
As we work to stamp out antisemitism and all forms of hate, we are also intensely focused on crimes against humanity being carried out around the world. In Xinjiang. In Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. And most recently, in Burma, in Mali, and northern Ethiopia.
Unfortunately, we have not yet lived up to the solemn promise of “never again.” Not when the Jewish community still faces discrimination and violence. And not when so many people, around the world – the most vulnerable, still face unthinkable acts of cruelty and persecution.
The Nuremberg trials taught Ferencz – and I quote, “that creating a world of tolerance and compassion would be a long and arduous task.” But that did not deter him. And it must not – it must not – deter us.
So let us recommit, here and now – here and now – to working together to build a more just, a more peaceful future for us all.
Thank you very much.