Holocaust survivor Lily Ebert shared her testimony at an event on Yom HaShoah last night at the Israeli ambassador's residence in London.
Hosted by Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely, the event commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day through an intimate conversation on the role of social media in Holocaust education and memorialisation.
This comes as a disturbing new study found that antisemitic incidents increased all over the world in 2021, driven by social media as well as the Israel-Hamas conflict.
On Thursday evening, Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely, hosted a 'Zikaron Basalon' event at her official residence to mark Yom HaShoah - the annual memorial day for the six million Jews whose lives were taken in the Holocaust.
'Zikaron Basalon' - which literally translates to 'memory in the living room' - is an Israeli initiative with the goal of connecting people to survivor's testimonies in small, intimate settings in order to bridge the emotional distance that many feel from the atrocities of the Holocaust.
98-year-old Auschwitz survivor Lily Ebert attended with her great-grandson Dov Forman to share her testimony of the Nazi genocide, and the pair also discussed the use of social media to educate the public on the horrors of the Holocaust.
Israeli Ambassdor Tzipi Hotovely (L) and Lily Ebert (R) commemorating Yom HaShoah at the ambassador's official resident on Thursday, April 28. Photo by Tammy Shefler Kazhdan / Mart Photography
Ebert and Forman have amassed a whopping 1.9 million Tik Tok followers, and many more on Twitter and beyond, sharing Lily's testimony to educate young people on the genocide that took place less than a century ago.
Of their attendance, Ambassador Hotovely said: "I am extremely grateful to Lily for sharing her story, alongside her great-grandson Dov, with the group this evening.
"Each time I hear Lily’s testimony, I am deeply impressed by her strength and am moved by her love of Judaism, the Jewish people, and the State of Israel. It is reassuring to know that the young people in attendance tonight are committed to being her witnesses.”
Karen Pollock OBE, CEO of the Holocaust Educational Trust, was also in attendance alongside twenty of the charity's Regional Ambassadors.
Israeli Ambassdor Tzipi Hotovely, Lily Ebert, and Holocaust Educational Trust Regional Ambassadors commemorating Yom HaShoah at the ambassador's official resident on Thursday, April 28. Photo by Tammy Shefler Kazhdan / Mart Photography
The group of young people shared their thoughts on the use of social media and its role in shaping public discourse surrounding the events of the Holocaust.
Ambassador Hotovely said: "We are at a critical moment in history. Young people are the future of effective Holocaust commemoration and we must ensure the lessons of the past are told frequently, through a variety of different mediums, so that the next generation understands where antisemitism can lead."
The ambassador added that social media is the "new frontline for Holocaust education", describing the platforms as "useful tools for disseminating educational information".
However, a disturbing new study published this week revealed that incidents of antisemitism have risen around the globe in the last year. The authors attribute part of this rise to social media as many were stuck at home and glued to screens due to Covid-19 restrictions, allowing antisemitism to permeate much further and faster.
The ambassador sharply criticised social media platforms in her statement, saying: "[They] have given rise to Holocaust distortion and denial, as well as becoming a means to generate and spread modern antisemitism. It was truly fascinating to hear how the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Regional Ambassadors have navigated this space."