Welcoming remarks by the Director of the Outreach Division, Department of Public Information
Distinguished Guests and Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentleman,
I am Raymond Sommereyns, Director of the Outreach Division in the United Nations Department of Public Information.
I am pleased to be at the Museum of Jewish Heritage this evening, to participate in the Daniel Pearl World Music Days. It is an honour for us to lend the support of the Holocaust and the United Nations outreach programme to this event, and to the vision of harmony, tolerance and mutual respect to which this worldwide collection of concerts aspires.
The outreach programme was established by the General Assembly last year, to remind the world that the Holocaust will forever be a warning of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice. Our activities, including an annual international Holocaust Remembrance Day - every year on 27 January - are designed to encourage remembrance of, and education about the Holocaust, in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide. Other elements of our programme include a film series, a discussion paper series, an annual seminar, a website and events such as this that help us to ensure that the memory of those lost to intolerance is not forgotten.
It is indeed appropriate that the Holocaust and the United Nations outreach programme take part in paying tribute to the legacy of Daniel Pearl.
Speaking at the United Nations on Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2006, the father of Daniel Pearl, Dr. Judea Pearl, likened the forces of intolerance that took the life of his son to the forces which took the lives of millions in the Holocaust.
Dr. Pearl said, “Both are products of the same disease – the dehumanization of ‘the other’. And both were fueled by unabated incitement, thriving on the silence of the enlightened world. Danny’s tragedy reminds us that these forces did not die in 1945; they are dangerously active today, and must be fought by education, dialogue, vigilance and timely response.”
It is true, as Dr. Pearl said, that the world has yet to learn from its mistakes, and that mankind’s potential for overwhelming heroism and good has yet to lay to rest the alternate capacity for intolerance and hatred. This is the great task before our Organization, and before all the peoples of the world: to learn from the lessons of our collective past, and work - together - toward a better future.
I would like to conclude by paying special thanks to the musicians who will begin shortly. Perhaps in the practice, patience and cooperation with which they will create this evening’s music, we might find inspiration to help us succeed in our work.