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Obama decries anti-Semitism in Remembrance Day message

‘Never forget. Never again,’ US president says, joining European Union in call to combat ‘far too common’ Jew-hatred

US President Barack Obama at a hotel in Panama City on April 10, 2015 (photo credit: AFP/ MANDEL NGAN)
US President Barack Obama at a hotel in Panama City on April 10, 2015 (photo credit: AFP/ MANDEL NGAN)

US President Barack Obama called for a forceful stand against anti-Semitism in a message marking Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“It is incumbent upon us to make real those timeless words, ‘Never forget. Never again.’ Yet, even as we recognize that mankind is capable of unspeakable acts of evil, we also draw strength from the survivors, the liberators, and the righteous among nations who represented humanity at its best,” Obama said.

“With their example to guide us, together we must firmly and forcefully condemn the anti-Semitism that is still far too common today. Together we must stand against bigotry and hatred in all their forms. And together, we can leave our children a world that is more just, more free, and more secure for all humankind.”

The US president echoed a European Union statement issued the previous day highlighting the fight against rising anti-Semitism in Europe. Honoring the millions murdered by the Nazis, the EU delegation said, means ”to stand strong against anti-Semitism, prejudice and racial discrimination in all their forms and wherever they occur.”

“This is true today more than ever. Seventy years after the Shoah, we still encounter anti-Semitism in Europe. There are Jewish communities in Europe that again feel insecure and we have been sadly reminded that violent anti-Semitism, intolerance and fanaticism remain a threat.”

“As a Union built on the values of human dignity and human rights after the tragedies of two world wars and the Shoah, we will not allow the return of the demons of anti-Semitism, racism and intolerance. Never forget. Never again.”

Violent anti-Semitic attacks soared by 38 percent worldwide in 2014, according to a Tel Aviv University survey marking the memorial day.

Across the world it logged 766 violent attacks, including “arson, vandalism or direct threats against Jewish persons or institutions.”

“The overall feeling among many Jewish people is one of living in an intensifying anti-Jewish environment that has become not only insulting and threatening, but outright dangerous, and that they are facing an explosion of hatred towards them as individuals, their communities, and Israel, as a Jewish state,” it said.

Israeli Jews stood in silence as sirens wailed across the country on Thursday marking Holocaust memorial day and 70 years since the liberation of the Nazi death camps. Traffic came to a halt and pedestrians stood at attention for two minutes as the sirens rang out.

At opening commemorations for the six million victims on Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared arch-foe Iran to Hitler’s Germany.

“As the Nazis sought to stamp out civilization and to set the master race to rule across the earth… while wiping out the Jewish people, so does Iran seek to control the region, spread outward and destroy the Jewish state,” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 15, 2015. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 15, 2015. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Speaking at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, he used the occasion to keep up his constant pressure against the emerging nuclear agreement between Tehran and world powers.

Warning against appeasing “tyrannical regimes,” Netanyahu questioned whether the lessons of World War II had been fully absorbed.

“Has the world really learned from the incomprehensible universal and Jewish tragedy of the previous century?” he asked.

“Democratic governments made a momentous mistake before World War II and we, along with many of our neighbors, are convinced that a bitter mistake has also been made now.”

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