AS I write this, it’s Holocaust Memorial Day. Headlines proclaim one in 20 people in the UK don’t believe the Holocaust happened. This is a grim indictment of education about the Shoah, and evidence of a growing rot in social attitudes towards Jews once more.

Sunday marked three months to the day since Robert Bowers walked into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and brutally murdered 11 Jews and injured seven others, for no reason other than the fact he hated them.

The attack has been viewed as the culmination of years of growing hatred and a resurgence of anti-Jewish tropes and conspiracies that stretches far back as the time of third century BCE. Without a common understanding of what antisemitism is and how it breeds denial, Nazi philosophy once more risks becoming normalised. The potential consequences for democracy are dire.

“The only answer to the Jewish question is blood. They have tried to genocide us would it not be justice to return the favor?” – Gab

I had hoped this would have been a point of reflection. I’d hoped that on this day, the memory of six million Jews killed not so long ago would find renewed pertinence in its proximity to contemporary loss of life fuelled by the same hatred and intolerance. Instead, on the radio I heard a man disputing the number of victims.

For the avoidance of doubt: questioning the figure is not a benign act. It’s not just run of the mill “scrutiny” – it is ideologically motivated. This number is often where antisemites take aim to discredit the collective understanding. To do so is to perpetuate the myth that the Jewish people are mendacious liars who are not to be trusted.

“The fake “Holocaust” narrative is the foundation the entire #WhiteGenocide agenda has been built upon” – Twitter

Let’s talk about what antisemitism is and how it differs from other forms of bigotry. Beyond being the target of stereotypes and more typical xenophobia, there is a special kind of hatred reserved for Jews for their purported deicide. The alleged killing of Jesus is considered the ultimate evil and has helped create an attitude that whatever happens, Jews are to blame for their own persecution. Jews are still seen as satanic and otherworldly, many still believe they are engaged as a collective, manipulative force acting behind the scenes to the detriment of all others but themselves. Even though The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – one of the most widely circulated publications – was proven to be a hoax, the idea of Jews as Machiavellian agents attempting to exert control with global media and finances persists.

There are so many competing stereotypes, any of which can be weaponised against the Jewish people. To our horror, we see versions of these being deployed by those on the left too. Whether they’re communist revolutionaries or capitalists, feckless traders, or crafty intellectuals hell-bent on destroying society, there is a shapeshifting Jewish bogeyman to fit your agenda. Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center, refers to this as “Judeus ex machina” – a grim caricature for any occasion.

“The owners of fake news media are Jews abomination lovers, socialist Communist, they want to destroy this country like Rats thinking in them self. This are not Godly Soul my brothers sisters in Jesus. Good Christians in NDP get out now before is to late. 60& Jews are evil souls.” – Twitter

These views are not as fringe as many would like to believe. According to a report from Google, people in the UK make 170,000 antisemitic searches every year, with a 30% rise in those looking for Holocaust hoax information around the day of remembrance. I can believe it.

The internet and social media have created the perfect conditions for viral hatred. Anonymity, a lack of accountability, and a potentially limitless audience means extreme content can reach thousands in minutes, millions in days.

We’re living in a time where almost everyone has the tools available for disseminating hatred and intolerance at lightning speed. This makes the efforts to challenge such extremism through education doubly urgent.

“The Holocaust is Jewish lies. Masturbation machines? Roller coasters of death? Gas chambers? There were no death camps! Jews always lie.” – Gab

Once again, antisemitism is a constant, persistent threat that is being fuelled by the internet and the inconsistent, inadequate moderation policies of social media sites.

As I searched mentions of “Jews” across platforms in a newspaper comment sections, I found a collection of such heinous, “hard-core” Holocaust denial it felt like I was being given a glimpse inside the twisted minds behind the Final Solution. If you don’t believe Jews were systematically persecuted by the Nazis, then I suggest you spend some time looking at how people talk about them online.

On Sunday, the Holocaust deniers were out in force. But this is but one form of modern antisemitism.

It exists in degrees, from trivialisation and dismissal to blatant denial. The scholar Deborah Lipstadt, known for her work and for beating antisemite David Irving’s libel case, describes the core beliefs deniers espouse: 1) that the Third Reich did not attempt to annihilate Jews; 2) some Jews suffered but were not singled out for extermination;

3) persecuted Jews were targeted with good reason ie being spies; 4) the Germans placed Jews in concentration camps for their safety; 5) that the six million number is a fabrication; 6) that gas chambers are scientific impossibility; 7) that survivors of concentration and death camps are charlatans, liars and grifters looking to make money. Opinions like these aren’t confined to the annals of history – they’re currency on Twitter and Gab.

Antisemitism has once more become a daily concern for Jews who often believed another Shoah could never happen in their lifetime. The hallmarks of the thinking that led to the events of the Second World War have become more salient, and many no longer feel safe or comfortable about what the future holds for them and their families. The Anti-Defamation League has called for Holocaust Memorial Day to be not just a memorial, but a day of education. This is a clarion call for action we cannot afford to ignore.


We must face the reality that antisemitism was not wiped out by the events of the last century.

For a while, the collective in-breath following the atrocities acted as a reminder of where such bigotry leads, but that proximity has lost its impact. As time has passed, as survivor numbers diminish and temporal distance between us and the Nazi regime grows, the seeds of hatred have begun to germinate and colonise discourse once more.

“You have to come to one of two conclusions, they’re the most ungrateful and entitled people on the planet, or they know they’re lying/exaggerating about the Holocaust.” – Twitter

It’s clear the inoculation provided by shared post-war values is no longer active. The conditions that allowed Jews to feel safe in western countries are being eroded daily. Without intervention to better educate the public, and to address why people hold these views, more hatred, more lies and more high-profile attacks seem almost inevitable.