Israel marks `Holocaust Remembrance Day`

Comparing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad`s threats to wipe out Israel to Nazi propaganda against Jews, Israeli leaders have appealed to the international community not to treat such incitements with indifference.

Updated: Apr 12, 2010, 15:53 PM IST

Jerusalem: Comparing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad`s threats to wipe out Israel to Nazi propaganda against Jews, Israeli leaders have appealed to the international community not to treat such incitements with indifference as the country marked `Holocaust Remembrance Day` on Sunday.

"The historic failure of free societies to confront the Nazi beast was that they did not face it in time," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, adding, "And today we are witness to the old hatred of Jews once again, fuelled by extremist Islamic authorities, led by Iran and its satellites."

"Iran`s leadership is racing to develop nuclear weapons and declares its intention to destroy Israel. The world is gradually accepting Iran`s exterminatory declarations regarding Israel and still we do not see the international determination required to stop the arming of Iran.”

“But if we learned something from the Holocaust, it is that we cannot remain quiet or flinch in the face of evil," the Israeli Premier asserted.

In a strong plea to world leaders, Netanyahu called upon "to confront Iran`s exterminatory intentions and act resolutely to stop it from obtaining nuclear weapons" at the state ceremony on the eve of the Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Day at Yad Vashem (Holocaust Museum) here.

Israel`s Nobel laureate President Shimon Peres said the world must not repeat its indifference at the face of new cries for the destruction of the Jewish people.

"Israel will never forget the two decrees which the Holocaust enforced," Peres said.

"The firm demand to sustain an independent Jewish state, one that holds its security in its own hands while at the same time tirelessly seeking peace as well as the demand to treat threats of annihilation, Holocaust denials, and terror mongering with the utmost severity," he said.

Referring to comments made by Ahmadinejad, who has threatened to "wipe the Zionist regime off the map," the President said it was Israel`s right "and duty to demand the nations of the worlds never to repeat their indifference, one which cost millions of lives, including their own."

"The ears of the United Nations must be attuned to the threats of annihilation made by one member of the UN against another. Otherwise, the foundation which holds the UN charter will collapse," Peres said.

In view of the efforts to make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone, the president said that "in order to reach clean skies in the Middle East we must first dismantle the threats of annihilation”.

"Weapons of mass destruction in hands capable of destroying masses accompanied by voices calling for such destruction are the combination most perilous to world peace. They turn the world into an uncontrollable place," he said.

Peres said he believes that some "parts of the Iranian people are themselves ashamed of the tyranny which has taken hold of it," adding that he thought the Arab states were "aware that Ahmadinejad`s anti-Israel incitement is meant to disguise his real aim, which is establishing Iran as a regional power."

"The [Second] World War broke with the Nazis` devilish incitement, claiming that they were a supreme race. We must never return to the beastly conception according to which there is such a thing as a supreme man, or supreme regime, or supreme race which can do whatever it sees fit," he said.

Israel Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, earlier said never again would the Jewish people lack the means to defend themselves, referring to the lessons learnt from the Holocaust.

Speaking at the Yad Vashem memorial, Ashkenazi said the Jewish people "will never again be dependent on the benevolence of others."

"Never again will Jewish children be fearful or begging for mercy. Never again will an advocate of evil be able to dictate the future of the Jewish people," he said vowing to defend his country from external threats.

"In the name of my father and his family who fought for a sovereign and independent state and in the name of the millions who were unable to witness the realisation of their dream, I stand here today as the commander of the Israel Defence Forces," Ashkenazi said.

Various ceremonies have been planned across the country to mark the Holocaust Day, an event many believe creates the strong bond of unity among the Jewish communities, that is supposed to have played an important role in the creation of the State of Israel.

In the day, Israel commemorates the six million Jews who perished in Nazi atrocities during the dark days of World War II.