April 22nd, 2009
The Israeli government used the potent, emotionally-charged platform of Auschwitz concentration camp today to rebut President Ahmadinejad’s latest tirade against the Jewish state.
Standing under the notorious wrought-iron gateway to the camp with its cynical slogan “Arbeit Macht Frei” (Work Makes Free), the Israeli Deputy Prime Minister, Silvan Shalom, said Iran was advocating no less than the Nazi-style elimination of the Jews.
“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,“ said Mr Shalom.
Mr Ahmadinejad provoked outrage at an anti-racism conference in Geneva yesterday when he called Israel “the most cruel and racist regime”. European Union delegates walked out; the governments of the US, Israel, Poland and Germany — aware that Mr Ahmadinejad has a long record of criticising Israel — had stayed away. In the past, the Iranian President has advocated wiping Israel off the map and has described the Holocaust as a “myth”.
“Yesterday in Geneva and today here in Auschwitz shows us unfortunately… the the world has to fight back against those enemies of peace, those enemies of living one with the other,” said Mr Shalom. Over one million Jews were killed in the SS-run Auschwitz camp and some six million were killed in the Holocaust overall.
Mr Shalom was visiting Auschwitz to take part in the annual March of the Living, when thousands of young people join Holocaust survivors to walk the three kilometres between the brick buildings of the camp to the decaying wooden prisoner barracks of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Mr Shalom was determined to use the occasion to put pressure on Iran. “I think that if the American administration — and first and foremost President Obama — is willing to open dialogue with Iran, I think it should be with a deadline and not dialogue that can last for years,” he said.
Dialogue without deadlines would “only enable them to end the programme and to have a nuclear bomb.” The combination of nuclear weapons and a virulently anti-Israeli policy posed a serious threat, he said; one with historical echoes.
“Israel can never live with the idea that Iran will hold a nuclear bomb because we have heard what the President of Iran and other leaders there have said: that Israel has no right to exist and that Israel should be wiped off the map and that they will do everything to destroy Israel.”
Source: Times Online