International Seminar in Azerbaijan Focuses on Rise of Extremism and Lessons of the Holocaust

Monday May 8th, 2017


At the Samuel Pisar International Holocaust Education Seminar in Baku, Azerbaijan

Muslim Leaders Say Holocaust Education Safeguard against Hatred and Intolerance


The first international Holocaust education seminar in the Caucasus region was organized on Friday, May 5, in Baku, Azerbaijan, by the the Aladdin Project, a Paris-based NGO promoting intercultural relations, in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The seminar was dedicated to the memory of Samuel Pisar, a survivor of Auschwitz who became an international lawyer, author, peacemaker and advisor to presidents, using his unique experience and perspective to build a vision for peace and rapprochement of cultures that he applied with integrity and stamina to the East-West confrontation during the Cold War, later to the Korean Peninsula, and finally to the Middle East conflict and Jewish-Muslim relations. Samuel Pisar, a member of the Aladdin Project’s board of directors, passed away in New York on July 27th, 2015. At the Baku seminar, Judith Pisar paid a moving tribute to the memory of her late husband.

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova opened the groundbreaking seminar in Baku’s International Conference Center, in the presence of Dr. Kemal Abdullayev, Azerbaijan’s foremost authority on intercultural and interfaith relations; Prof. Steven Katz, an eminent historian of the Holocaust and academic advisor to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA); Yad Vashem’s Director General Dorit Novak,  and more than 150 senior officials, diplomats, religious leaders, academics, representatives of international organizations, teachers and educators.

Describing Holocaust education as key to understanding the roots of hatred, Irina Bokova said, “With our privileged partner, the Aladdin Project, we organized the world premiere of the film by Claude Lanzmann, Shoah, subtitled in Farsi, Turkish and Arabic – broadcasted by satellite to Iran. Our commitment [to Holocaust education]  is inseparable to the work we do also to tell the truth about Jewish history, to protect World Heritage sites in Israel, to share the wealth of Jewish culture among all other cultures.”

Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti emeritus of Bosnia Herzegovina; Bakthiar Amin, former Minister for Human Rights in Iraq; Dr. Leah Pisar, a National Security Council staff member in President Bill Clinton’s White House; Ephraim Sneh, former Israeli minister and parliamentarian, and Yves Kugelmann from the Basel-based Anne Frank Foundation were among the speakers at the seminar.

Those present at the seminar included historians Prof. Jabi Bahramov of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan; Prof. Azad Rzayev, head of the history department of Baku State University; Prof. Firdovsiya Ahmadova, head of the history department at the Academy of Public Administration and Prof. Shikar Qasimov, head of the history department at Azerbaijan Technical University. Leaders of Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities in Azerbajian also participated in the discussions.