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Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Friday that the international community is "hardly doing anything" to stop Iranian nuclear ambitions and its ongoing threats to annihilate Israel, which he said echoed statements coming out of Germany just before the start of World War II.
"Learning about the Holocaust is not just the learning of remote history of what happened to the Jewish people. On these very days we hear voices which echo those that started to spread across the world in the 1930s," Olmert said in an address at Yad Vashem.
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"It is the first time that a leader of a very big and important nation openly and publicly declares that an aim of his nation is to wipe the State of Israel off the map, and this nation continues to be a legitimate member of the United Nations and leaders of many of the countries in the world receive this leader and hardly do anything."
The prime minister's speech came as Iran publicly announced that it had doubled its capability to enrich uranium by injecting gas into a second network of centrifuges.
The event at Yad Vashem, honoring an American entrepreneur's record $25 million donation to Israel's Holocaust center, was dominated by growing concern in Israel over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, and the world's inaction to stop it to date.
"Who would have imagined that 60 years after the end of World War II, these threats could be made," said Nobel Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Prof. Elie Wiesel, who has called for Iran's expulsion from the United Nations following Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's repeated calls to destroy Israel.
"We belong to a generation who take more seriously the threats of enemies than the promises of friends," he said.
Opposition leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu said that it was no accident that those who wanted to destroy the State of Israel also wanted to erase the memory of the Holocaust, the two pivotal issues of modern-day Jewish history which he said were indelibly linked.
In a direct comparison between the Nazi leader and the Iranian president, Netanyahu said that while Hitler first embarked on a world conflict and then sought to acquire nuclear weapons, Ahmadinejad was first seeking nuclear weapons and then was planning to set out on a world conflict.
The dignitaries spoke at a tribute to American casino magnate Sheldon G. Adelson and his wife Miriam for their contribution to Yad Vashem to further Holocaust education and commemoration.
Adelson, 73, chairman and chief executive of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., has an estimated net worth of more than $20 billion, making him the 14th richest person in the world, and the third-wealthiest American after Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.
"We simply wanted to do what we think is a honor to do...to help the continuity of the Jewish people and memories which we should never forget," Adelson said at the ceremony.
Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev noted that Adelson, who grew up in Boston to a poor family of immigrants from Lithuania, was indelibly influenced by his father, a Zionist who always had a dream to come to Israel.
Adelson's Israeli-born wife Miriam recounted how her own childhood and young adult life was shadowed by the death of nearly all her parent's family in the Holocaust.
"I didn't think it can happen again. My feeling today is that it can happen again," she concluded.
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