WASHINGTON – Israel’s US envoy called on the world Thursday to prevent Iran from
perpetrating another Holocaust.
“We have to prevent a second Holocaust
from happening,” Ambassador Michael Oren told The Jerusalem Post following a
Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony in the Capitol rotunda. “When Iran says it
wants to destroy the State of Israel, which just happens to have six million
Jews, we have to take it seriously.”
Oren stressed that “we can never
compare the Holocaust to anything. It’s in a league by itself. It’s uniquely
But he added, “We also have to look for
The historian-turned-diplomat described the shared
circumstances of the present day and the 1930s: economic crises, a war-weary
public, a radical regime plotting domination, the Jews depicted as a
“It’s not a coincidence that Iran’s denying the Holocaust while
seeking to perpetrate a second one,” he said.
Oren delivered a similar
message at the Capitol ceremony, though he noted an important difference between
action against the Holocaust in the past and toward Iran now.
States is not, is not watching passively. On the contrary, the White House and
the Congress are leading the world” in imposing sanctions, keeping all options
on the table and declaring Israel’s right to defend itself, he said.
of the key forces behind those sanctions – the US Treasury – was represented at
the ceremony as well.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner delivered the
keynote address, in which he described the world’s “most creative and most
effective system of financial sanctions” to keep Iran from pursuing its nuclear
ambitions as “crucial to thwarting those who would kill in the name of
John Boehner, speaker of the US House of Representatives, and
Per Westerberg, speaker of the Swedish Parliament, attended the ceremony as
Westerberg’s presence honored Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish
diplomat who risked his life saving thousands of Jews during the Holocaust and
later disappeared. His fate remains unknown to this day.
week, the US House of Representatives voted unanimously to award Wallenberg the
Congressional Gold Medal.
US President Barack Obama marked Holocaust Remembrance day with calls to combat Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism, as well as for vigilance against current and future atrocities.
"As societies, we must stand against ignorance and anti-Semitism, including those who try to deny the Holocaust," Obama said in a statement issued Thursday. "As nations, we must do everything we can to prevent and end atrocities in our time."
The day was also marked for the first time at the Pentagon by US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at a ceremony attended by survivors and by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, with whom Panetta had been meeting.
Panetta said Barak's career as a decorated soldier and a leader was in itself a rebuke to the Nazis.
Survivors helped "build a strong and vibrant Jewish state in Israel," he said. "Ehud's life has been a living tribute to the memory of the Holocaust."
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