04/21/2009, 00.00
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Israel stops to remember Holocaust victims

In speeches opening Holocaust Remembrance Day, Peres and Netanyahu slam Iran’s president for his statement at the Geneva conference on racism. The representative of the Holy See to Israel says that there can be no doubts about the Holocaust and that the necessary conditions to avoid such aberrations must created.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – At 10 am today, Israel came to a standstill for two minutes in memory of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust. Men, women and children stood in the streets, in offices and  factories people stopped working, drivers pulled over and got out of their cars  as the mournful sound of air-raid sirens pierced the air.

Children who perished in the Holocaust were the focus of this year’s Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day. Across the Jewish State and in various parts of the world exhibits dedicated to youngest victims were set up. Out of an estimated six million Jews who died in the Shoah, about a million and half were children.

There can be no doubts about the Holocaust under any circumstances, Mgr Antonio Franco, apostolic nuncio to Israel, said yesterday. It is part of everyone’s memory and it ought to encourage people to create the conditions necessary to avoid such aberrations.

At Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, the commemoration began with activities for young people. Survivors were at hand to bear witness and speak to groups of students.

After the two minutes of silence and the formal ceremony attended by Israel’s top leaders, the name of each known Holocaust victim was read out in Yad Vashem’s Hall of Remembrance. The same names were read out starting at 11 am in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

In the commemoration’s opening ceremony last night Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres slammed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the  statement he made yesterday at the Geneva Conference against Racism.

Peres said he was “deeply hurt and ashamed” by the anti-Semitic statement made by the Iranian leader, calling his appearance at the conference “a deplorable disgrace.”

“We will not allow the Holocaust deniers to carry out another Holocaust against the Jewish people,” Prime Minister Netanyahu said. “This is the supreme duty of the state of Israel. This is my supreme duty as prime minister of Israel.”

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