World marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Visitors tour the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem, on International Holocaust Day 2017 (Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Around the world on Friday, January 27, from the UN to Israel and beyond, communities are marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day to remember the 6 million Jews and some 2 million Christians, Roma (Gypsies) and disabled people who were systematically executed at the hands of the Nazis.

The international day marks the liberation of the concentration camps Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland in 1945. Israel commemorates the Holocaust, Yom HaShoah, according to the Jewish calendar on the 27th of Nisan, eight days before Yom Ha’atzma’ut, Israeli Independence Day. The timing partially coincides with the uprising of the Warsaw ghetto on April 19, 1943.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed an international gathering yesterday at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center.

“In a few short years, 6 million of our people were wiped away, literally incinerated. And the forces of evil had built an industry of mass murder,” he said. “So, as we remember the victims, and this crime, we must never forget the roots of our greatest disaster – the insatiable hatred for the Jewish people. This hatred culminated in murder, but it began with intolerance.”

He warned that the anti-semitism which drove the Holocaust still exists and is getting stronger in some places.

“The Holocaust, thank God, is behind us, but the hatred and intolerance that drove it is not. Anti-Semitism, which is the world’s oldest hatred, is experiencing a revival in the enlightened West, you can see this in European capitals, just unbelievable. The rise of anti-Semitism, the resurgence of anti-Semitism that is happening, and few would have imagined that this would be possible a few years ago.”

Iran, however, remains Israel’s greatest danger, the prime minister said.

“I want you to think about a regime that openly declared its intention to eliminate every black person, every gay person, every European. I think the entire world would be outraged, and rightly so,” he said. “But when a regime merely calls to wipe out every Israeli – which is what they say day in day out, their most prominent leaders, they say it – what do we encounter? A deafening silence.”

Netanyahu said that he has spoken with U.S. President Donald Trump about “Iranian aggression” and the regime’s commitment to destroy the Jewish state.

“We cannot and will not be silent in the face of Iran’s stated aim of destroying Israel,” he said.

Israel isn’t just battling a regime calling for its destruction, but a growing movement of Holocaust deniers. Internet search giant Google has come under fire for searches about the Holocaust that instead turned up neo-Nazi Holocaust denial websites. Google claimed it tweaked its algorithm in order that the first item in response to “Did the Holocaust…” is not a neo-Nazi denying the Holocaust.

But claims that “the services of the biggest company in the world are still, in effect, helping neo-Nazis spread their propaganda.”