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    Germany Israeli fury at Iran on day of remembrance

    Hurriyet Daily News with wires
    22.04.2009 - 00:00 | Son Güncelleme:

    OSWIECIM, Poland - Iran is trying to replicate Nazi Germany's treatment of the Jews, Israeli deputy prime minister said yesterday in response to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s verbal attack on his country at a U.N. anti-racism conference in Geneva.

    "Today's Iran is like Hitler's Germany," said the deputy premier of the Israeli government, Silvan Shalom, ahead of a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at the former Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp.

    "What Iran is trying to do right now is not far away at all from what Hitler did to the Jewish people just 65 years ago," Shalom told reporters in Poland.

    "Yesterday [Monday] in Geneva and today [Tuesday] here in Auschwitz are showing us unfortunately... the world still has to fight back against those enemies of peace, those enemies of living one with the other," he was quoted by Agence France-Presse.

    In Jerusalem, the wail of sirens brought Israel to a halt yesterday in solemn remembrance of six million Jews killed by the Nazis, with the nation seething over Ahmadinejad's latest anti-Israel tirade.

    At a ceremony opening Holocaust Remembrance Day on Monday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that Israel would "not allow the Holocaust deniers to carry out another Holocaust against the Jewish people," reported The Associated Press. Frenetic Israel came to a standstill for two minutes yesterday morning as air-raid sirens sounded across the country in mournful tribute to the Holocaust dead. Cars came to a halt and people froze in their tracks, many with heads bowed.

    An estimated 250,000 Holocaust survivors live in Israel, roughly half of those still alive worldwide. The Nazis wiped out a third of world Jewry during World War II. "I feel like we have won. We beat Hitler, and we will beat that Ahmadinejad, too," Holocaust survivor, Hanita Leshem, 69, said.

    Ahmadinejad's speech, in which he called Israel "the most cruel and racist regime," sparked a walkout by several European delegates. Several countries, including Israel, Poland and the United States, had already decided to boycott the five-day conference.

    U.N. officials and diplomats sought yesterday to salvage a major anti-racism conference, hoping to promptly adopt the new declaration, which addresses issues including attacks on foreign workers and the links between poverty and discrimination, to steady the troubled meeting.

    Mideast hot topic at UNmeet
    But the Middle East continued to loom over the meeting yesterday, with Jewish groups denouncing the Iranian speech as scandalous and Arab countries raising concerns about conditions in Israeli-occupied territories, according to Reuters. Palestinian Foreign Affairs Minister Riyad al-Malki denounced to applause the Israeli occupation as "the worst violation of human rights" and "the ugliest face of racism and racial discrimination."

    Ahmadinejad dropped language describing the Holocaust as "ambiguous and dubious" from a speech attacking Israel at a United Nations racism conference, the U.N. said yesterday.

    The U.N. and the Iranian Mission in Geneva did not comment on why the change was made, but U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday that he had met with Ahmadinejad before his speech and reminded him that the U.N. had adopted resolutions "to revoke the equation of Zionism with racism and to reaffirm the historical facts of the Holocaust."

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