Imagine commemorating the Holocaust in a country where, just a few hours earlier, one of the world’s most powerful Holocaust deniers was welcomed with open arms, by the head of state no less.
Exactly this happened. Sunday evening, Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met with Hans-Rudolf Merz, Switzerland’s president. Next day, Monday, on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, notorious Holocaust denier and anti-Semite, delivers the keynote address at the UN’s Durban Review Conference. Later on Monday, I attend a Holocaust memorial service in Zurich.
Bibi Netanyahu summed it up perfectly: “While we commemorate [those who perished in the Holocaust], a conference purporting to be against racism will convene in Switzerland. The guest of honor is a racist, a Holocaust-denier who makes no secret of his intention of wiping Israel off the face of the earth.”
In fact, Ilan Elgar, Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland was recalled to Israel earlier in the day and was unable to make his scheduled appearance at the service. His undersecretary appeared in his place. She, and others who spoke, emphasized the importance of not only commemorating the Holocaust, but of resisting today’s (literally, that day’s) anti-Semitism. The name Mordechai Anielewicz, commander of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, was mentioned more than once, as a role model for us as Jews to resist and fight against defamation.
Of course one doesn’t wish that a Holocaust memorial service be so real, so current, but that it was all the more powerful because of what was happening just a few hundred miles away – undeniable.
May you all have a meaningful Holocaust Remembrance Day, and may the souls of all the victims find peace in Eden.