Tags: holocaust | israel | iran

Israel Marks Holocaust Remembrance Day

By Nicole Jansezian   |   Monday, 20 Apr 2009 11:24 PM

In a chilling coincidence, this year’s solemn Holocaust commemoration in Israel landed on Adolf Hitler’s birthday as well as on the first day of a United Nations racism conference the Jewish state says is taking a marked anti-Israel stance.

Several Israeli organizations have sent delegates to Geneva to protest the conference. One organization, Israel Empowerment Fund, rallied Christian Zionists from around Europe to take part in the pro-Israel protests.

“The conference is only an excuse to blame Israel for all the problems in the world and be anti-Semitic, which is ironic because the whole theme of the event is supposed to be against racism,” Michael Decker of the Jerusalem Institute of Justice tells Newsmax.

The organization created a coalition of Jews and Christians called “The Israel Empowerment Fund” and called upon European Christians to join them in Geneva for a week of protest events. Demonstrations for and against Israel are set to take place every day of the conference.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused Israel of being the "most cruel and racist regime," sparking a walkout Monday by angry Western diplomats at a U.N. racism conference.

Several nations including the United States have boycotted the United Nations’ conference in Geneva due to its statement’s harsh wording against Israel. On Monday, Israel recalled its ambassador to Switzerland, Ilan Elgar, in protest against the Geneva conference and a meeting between Ahmadinejad and Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz.

“I feel deeply hurt and ashamed that on such a day, there is the opening of a racist conference in Geneva, and the main speaker is who? (Iranian President) Mahmoud Ahmadinejad,” Israel’s President Simon Peres said in a statement. “A man that calls to wipe Israel off of the map. A man who denies the Holocaust.”

Around the nation, Jewish-owned businesses shut down at dusk on Monday and ceremonies took place at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial to remember the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust.

Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the nations who boycotted the conference, but condemned it and “its guest-of-honor” who he called “a racist Holocaust-denier who does not hide his intentions to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.“

“The unfortunate fact is that while we are marking the events of the Holocaust here at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, there are those who chose to participate in a spectacle of hatred of Israel, conducted at this very hour in the heart of Europe,” Netanyahu said at a memorial service Monday night. “From here I turn to you, President of Switzerland, and I ask you: how can you, as a head of an enlightened state, meet with those who deny the Holocaust and strive for another one?“

Indeed, several delegates walked out of Ahmadinejad’s vitriolic speech on Monday when he called Israel a "paragon of racism.”

The United Nation’s Durban Review Conference is a follow-up to the 2001 World Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa.

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