Roundtable discussion examines the role of faith and identity
in the promotion of peace

United Nations staff members, Holocaust survivors and civil society groups discussed how faith and circumstances help shape an individual’s identity, influence one’s actions and attitudes, and can encourage the promotion of peace at a roundtable organized by the Department of Public Information’s Holocaust Programme on 18 November 2015 at New York Headquarters. 

"It is important to hear the stories of genocide survivors so we can learn what human beings are capable of both inflicting and enduring. By bravely telling their stories, they are in fact increasing our awareness and helping prevent history from repeating itself," said DPI staff member Aarão Benchimol from Brazil.

Ambassador Danny Danon, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, speaking next to a burnt stone salvaged from the Great Synagogue in Mannheim, Germany that was set aflame during the 1938 Kristallnacht Pogroms, noted that the stone represented one of the darkest times in human history and the history of the Jewish people.  Event moderator Ramu Damodaran, Chief, United Nations Academic Impact Initiative, drew a parallel between the hostility and wariness facing refugees today and 75 years ago, when nearly all countries closed their doors to Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler.

H.E. Mr. Danny Danon, Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations

Panellists reflecting on faith, identity and the promotion of peace Mr. Adama Dieng, Special Adviser to the Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide, Rabbi Eliot J. Cosgrove, from New York’s Park Avenue Synagogue, Mr. Menachem Z. Rosensaft, son of two survivors of  the infamous Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen. Ms. Adisada Dudic, attorney and survivor of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, and Ms. Consolée Nishimwe, author and survivor of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Participants at the round table on “Faith, Identity and the Promotion of Peace
in the Aftermath of Genocide”

Rabbi Cosgrove said that strength and peace are not “either or” propositions, but both “and” propositions. “The United Nations has the opportunity and the obligation to be the prophetic voice of both of these obligations and to be a hand of compassion and haven for a humanity that is once again suffering terrible affliction”, he added. Ms. Nishimwe highlighted the importance of individual action and strongly advocated that wherever people see injustice it is essential that to speak out against it. Ms. Dudic a survivor of the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, shared her moving story and voiced her disappointment that the UN Security Council failed to pass a resolution this year, on the 20th anniversary of the tragic events, that would have strongly condemned as genocide the crimes at Srebrenica as established by the judgments of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Court of Justice.

Listen to UN Radio interview with Mr. Menachem Z. Rosensaft.

Watch archived video of the event.