Holocaust Day marked at Foreign Ministry

"We at the United Nations must be vigilant in guarding the past, keeping alive what happened, resolutely combating Holocaust denial, and learning its lessons."

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January 28, 2010 04:48
2 minute read.
Holocaust Day marked at Foreign Ministry

holocaust survivor 298ap. (photo credit: AP)

 
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Reflecting a certain unease in the Foreign Ministry's upper echelons about efforts by Diaspora Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein to link the Goldstone Report with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a ceremony marking the day at the ministry Wednesday stayed clear of any such references.

Director-General Yossi Gal, in opening remarks to the diplomats in attendance, made no reference at all to the Goldstone Report, or to Iran, saying only that anti-Semitism today has taken on a different form, and now includes the deligitimization of Jews and Israel.

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UN Special Middle East coordinator Robert Serry, who addressed the gathering, also stayed clear of linking any contemporary political issue to the Holocaust, though in an oblique reference to Iran he denounced Holocaust denial.

"We at the United Nations must be vigilant in guarding the past, keeping alive what happened, resolutely combating Holocaust denial, and learning its lessons," said Serry, who told the gathering his mother's family hid Jews from the Nazis in his native Holland.

"The vote of the UN General Assembly five years ago designating this day as International Day of Commemoration of the Holocaust is crucial in ensuring that these efforts grow stronger with time," he said.

"So is the vote of the UN General Assembly three years ago condemning without reservation any Holocaust denial and calling on all states unreservedly to reject this - an injunction that has, appallingly, been ignored by some who have used the UN podium to deny the Holocaust, while threatening the existence of the State of Israel."

Aryeh Mekel, the Foreign Ministry's deputy director-general for cultural and scientific affairs, pointed out that Israel fought for years in the UN for the establishment of an international day marking the Holocaust, and that it was therefore important that the day be marked in Israel as well. This was the first time since the day was designated five years ago that there was an official ceremony in Jerusalem.

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"We hope this turns into a tradition," Mekel said, "and that the General Assembly declaration does not remain merely on paper."

Mekel said there was a marked increase this year in the quantity and quality of ceremonies marking the day around the globe.

Asked if the ceremonies would not detract from Yom Hashoah on the Jewish calendar, Mekel said that it was important that not only Israel and the Jews commemorate the Holocaust, but the rest of the world as well.

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