A month after the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust, there is a moral inversion of history taking place. Israel is being accused of genocide by protesters, human rights activists, and various media in response to its military campaign against the Hamas regime in Gaza. Not only is it a debasement of the term genocide, it is a distortion of the Holocaust that fuels the surge in antisemitism worldwide.

It strains credulity that as we commemorate today the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the infamous antisemitic pogrom in Germany marking the onset of the Holocaust, Jews are being accused of genocide. Over 1,500 Israelis, mostly civilians, including babies, were killed by Hamas terrorists, many of them tortured and raped, while 239 people were kidnapped and taken hostage to Gaza. Yet these horrific crimes have been diminished, ignored, and even celebrated by those who accuse Israel of genocide.

“Genocide” is a legal term that requires intent to destroy an entire people, ethnicity or nation and in no way applies to Israel’s actions to defend itself. (See,Genocide is a Clearly Defined Crime. Israel is Not Committing It.”). Yet, critics of Israel have manipulated the memory of the Holocaust to turn it against the Jewish State, a familiar demonization throughout history. It is a perversion of fact and international law. It is dangerous. It is antisemitic.

Indeed, the barbaric actions of the Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7 and its charter, which calls for the elimination of the State of Israel and whose leaders have exhorted followers to murder Jews worldwide, fits the legal description of genocide. And anti-Israel protesters’ slogan,“from the river to the sea” is, as many in Congress have acknowledged, “a genocidal call to violence to destroy the state of Israel and its people to replace it with a Palestinian state extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”

The sharp escalation of antisemitism worldwide since the outbreak of the Hamas-Israel war is of utmost concern. United States FBI director Christopher Wray recently said that antisemitism in the US “has reached historic levels.” Attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions in Europe — in the countries where the Holocaust took place — and the proliferation of antisemitic speech, is becoming more and more acceptable. Jews worldwide are increasingly isolated, many living in acute fear.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which brings together governments, organizations, and experts to strengthen Holocaust education and remembrance, has made confronting Holocaust distortion a priority in fighting antisemitism. There could not be a more important time to do so.

Earlier this year Oana Nestian-Sandu, TOLI’s International Program Director, was invited to lead content development for the IHRA-UNESCO Capacity Building Training on Holocaust Distortion. The training curriculum will be freely available on the IHRA website at the end of this year.

We believe it is of vital importance for teachers and students to understand the history and correct usage of the term genocide and its implications. There is no doubt that many innocent Palestinians are casualties of this war, one brought on by the Hamas regime. It is tragic. But to conflate that with the Holocaust disgraces history and the memories of the victims of true genocide.

As we commemorate Kristallnacht, which took place on Nov. 9-10, 1938, we also mourn those Jews who were murdered on Oct. 7, 2023 in the worst pogrom since the Holocaust. And we call on all those who care about human rights to remember and protest for all victims who were snatched by terrorists from their homes, nurseries, and communities, and have been held hostage for over a month in Gaza.

We join the United States, President Biden, and other world leaders in condemning the surge of antisemitism. We, as Holocaust education organizations, must be vigilant and demonstrative in rejecting the disinformation and distortion of the Holocaust.


For more information about The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI), please contact

TOLI is located at 58 East 79th Street in Manhattan. (get directions)