28 January 2011
In cities across the globe, events were held to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 66 years after the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops. In Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city, the first-ever official Holocaust memorial was held at the Neve Shalom Synagogue. Turkey’s Parliament Speaker Mehmet Ali Şahin sent a message in which he noted that Turkey was a model country where people have been living peacefully. “I share the pain of our Jewish citizens and I hope that such tragedy will not occur again," Şahin said.
Ertan Tezgör, on behalf of Turkish Foreign Ministry, Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş, and Ishak Haleva, the chief rabbi of Turkey, were among the dignitaries who attended the event. “Gathering in love, brotherhood and humanity should be our common language to ensure that we must never experience this crime against humanity, this attack against humanity ever again,” Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu said after lighting a candle in commemoration of the Holocaust’s victims with Chief Rabbi Haleva (picture above).
At a commemorative event at the Senate in Prague, Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas warned against the questioning of the Holocaust It was dangerous to distort history, he said. "Holocaust denial has become a real industry that is nurtured by current political conflicts in some parts of the world," Necas said at the ceremony, which was also attended by representatives of the Federation of Czech Jewish Communities, Holocaust survivors, Roma representatives, and Czech politicians. Necas said those who deny the Holocaust yesterday want to stir up hatred to prepare conditions for another wave of barbarism. "Our duty is to prevent them from succeeding in this attempt," he emphasized.
In his speech, Premysl Sobotka, vice-president of the Czech Senate, referred to the Gaza flotilla incident in May 2010: “I visited Israel last year just in the time of the affair of provocation with the Turkish boat attempting to violate the blockade of the Gaza Strip where, everybody is aware of the fact, the territory is controlled by Hamas terrorists who frequently attack Israel with missiles. Nevertheless a couple of European journalists, peace activists and politicians willingly participated in this event and following the strike of the Israeli forces, served as coulisses in the hysterical anti-Israeli media campaign. Only a very few people were able to realize that such activities weaken all of us and support and revitalize the forces of intolerance and violence. Let us bear this fact on mind and try not to be passive even to those manifestations of dangerous naivety. Otherwise the commemoration of the Holocaust victims, for example, would become a sheer formality.”
In Washington, US President Barack Obama pledged to combat the "scourge of anti-Semitism" and other bigotries. "I join people here at home, in Israel, and around the world in commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day, as we mark one of the darkest, most destructive periods in human history," he said in a statement, adding: "To remember is a choice, and today we remember the innocent victims of the Nazis' murderous hate - six million Jews and millions of other people. We are reminded to remain ever-vigilant against the possibility of genocide, and to ensure that 'Never Again' is not just a phrase but a principled cause. And we resolve to stand up against prejudice, stereotyping, and violence - including the scourge of anti-Semitism - around the globe."
In New York, heavy snowfall caused the postponement of a special UN General Assembly meeting on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The United Nations building was shut down, and other commemorative events planned for Thursday in New York also were postponed.
In Brazil, the country's new president, Dilma Roussef, attended a remembrance event hosted by CONIB, the umbrella body of Jewish organizations, in the city of Porto Alegre (picture above).
We welcome any comments you may have on this article.
Comments are moderated and we reserve the right to edit or remove any which are derogatory or offensive.
The WJC is not responsible for the content of any comments.
There are no comments
Fill up the form above and be the first one
Subscribe to our newsletter.