24 January 2011
At a ceremony in New York’s Park East Synagogue, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that the denial of the Shoah was intolerable. Ban attended a ceremony marking the upcoming International Holocaust Memorial Day attended by representatives from countries including Germany, India, Poland, South Korea, Hungary and Italy. Rabbi Arthur Schneier, who presided over the ceremony, called Ban a "mensch". Schneier said Ban believed in "compassionate diplomacy - diplomacy from the heart."
Ban told the congregation: "We can never tolerate anybody who denies the Holocaust” because it was the "darkest chapter in history."
“The United Nations was created in hope, and hope is what it stands for to this day,” Ban declared. “Let us work together to make the UN all that it can be, all that it must be – a force for democracy, a champion of freedom, a lamp for human dignity, human rights and human aspiration. Above all, let us renew our collective determination to never allow such a terrible passage of history to happen again,” he told the congregants, which included some survivors of the Holocaust. For me, for many people in the world, you are symbols – symbols of human endurance, symbols of hope, symbols of the redemptive power of remembrance.”
Ban added: "As United Nations secretary general, I never forget this fundamental mission: to speak out, for human rights and human decency. To protect the world's innocents. To speak for those who would otherwise not be heard. To offer help to those in need.”
Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Meron Reuben, lauded the ceremony, saying that when the UN had designated International Holocaust Memorial Day five years ago, no-one could believe that it would receive this much recognition world-wide.
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