President Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu deliver opening addresses at state ceremony marking commencement of national day of mourning
Ronen Medzini, YnetNews.com

Anti-Semitism is still alive. The ceremony (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

“Nazism was defeated, but anti-Semitism is still alive. The gas has evaporated, but the poison remains,” President Shimon Peres said on Monday evening in his address at the State ceremony marking the commencement of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“The conference that opened in Geneva today is the acceptance of racism, not the fight against it. And its key speaker, (Iranian President) Ahmadinejad, who calls for the extermination of Israel and who denies the Holocaust, it’s shameful, a disgrace,” said Peres.

“Anti-Semitism is not a Jewish disease, and those who need to cure it are those from whom it comes. It is hard for us to understand why the biggest tyrants, the Nazi Hitler, the Bolshevik Stalin, or the Persian Ahmadinejad chose the Jews to focus their hatred, madness and violence on. Perhaps their objection to the Jewish people is due to its spiritual strength.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also addressed the Durban II conference in Geneva, criticizing the world for ignoring the overt intention to wipe the Jewish state off the map. He turned to Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz, who met with Ahmadinejad ahead of the conference.

“How could you, as the leader of an enlightened state, meet with some who denies the Holocaust, who wishes for another Holocaust,” Netanyahu charged.

The prime minister also extended Israel’s appreciation “to those important countries who chose to boycott this parade of hate, and to those delegates who left the hall while the Iranian president was voicing his hateful rhetoric.”

To the Holocaust survivors Netanyahu said: “The government has a deep commitment to you. In years past the state has not always known how to provide you with what you need, but things have changed over the last years. Today I promise you that we will continue to give the adequate response to your unique needs.”

This year’s memorial events will focus on children in the Holocaust. During the state ceremony six beacons will be lit by Holocaust survivors. Two of these survivors are twin sisters who survived the monstrous experiments of Dr. Joseph Mengele in the Auschwitz death camp.

At 10 am (GMT) Tuesday a siren will be heard throughout the country and Israelis will observe a two-minute silence in memory of those who perished.