Netanyahu compares Iran to Nazi Germany
The wail of air raid sirens pierced the air for two minutes as the country came to a standstill in a yearly ritual remembering the 6 million Jews who perished in World War II. People stood at attention and traffic halted during the moment of silence, as radio stations played mournful music throughout the day.
At Auschwitz, Poland, thousands of young Jews along with Holocaust survivors marched Monday to remember those who perished in the Nazi death camp, and to honor Poland’s late president. The 10,000 or so people from around the world attending the annual March of the Living walked the stretch of about 2 miles between the red-brick Auschwitz compound and the death camp’s wooden barracks section of Birkenau.
Israel was built on the ashes of the Holocaust, and preserving the memory of the Nazi genocide plays a central role in the country’s identity. At the memorial’s opening ceremony late Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried to draw parallels to the rise of Nazi Germany and the development of Iran’s nuclear program.
Israel, like the West, believes Iran is developing nuclear weapons, and Netanyahu derided the world’s response to curbing Tehran’s atomic ambitions as limp.
“If we have learned anything from the Holocaust, it is that we must not be silent or be deterred in the face of evil,” Netanyahu said. Israel considers a nuclear-armed Iran an existential threat, underscored by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s repeated references to the Jewish state’s destruction and Tehran’s support for anti-Israeli militant groups. Israel has hinted at taking military action against Iran if diplomacy fails.
The Yad Vashem memorial authority picked “Voices of the Survivors” as the theme of this year’s commemoration. Sixty-five years after World War II, about 207,000 aging survivors, many of them destitute and alone, live in Israel, down 63,000 from just two years earlier.
In Jerusalem, Yad Vashem opened a new art exhibit on Monday displaying works by survivors. Among the collection was a painting by Shoshana Noyman, 78, who lost her father and sister during a six-week death march in Ukraine. The painting shows a bearded man, eyes closed with exhaustion, carrying a young girl on his shoulders. She said her father dropped dead of exhaustion at the end of the march, while her sister died from typhus.
“I have no pictures of my family. I drew this from memory. This is how I remember them,” said Noyman, who was forced to stand guard by her sister’s body for more than a week before it could be removed.
At the Israeli parliament on Monday, Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, other officials and survivors read names of loved ones who perished.
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