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´No One Cared That Jews Were Being Murdered,´ Sharon Says (CNS-CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE) By Julie Stahl JERUSALEM, ISRAEL 01/27/05)Source: http://www.cnsnews.com//ViewForeignBureaus.asp?Page=\ForeignBureaus\archive\200501\FOR20050127c.html CNS} CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE CNS} CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Nothing was done to stop the murders of Jews during World War II because "no one cared that Jews were being murdered," Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on Thursday, in an unusually harsh speech marking Israel´s struggle against anti- Semitism.

Sixty years later, some 40 heads of state, hundreds of Holocaust survivors and a handful of their liberators are commemorating the Holocaust in freezing temperatures at the site of the Auschwitz- Birkenau concentration camp in Poland.

Thursday marks the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the death camp.

The commemoration, organized by the Polish national council on memorials, is the largest ever. It may also be one of the last to bring both survivors and their liberators together, since most of them are at least 80 years old by now. An estimate 7,000 survivors of the camp are still alive today.

With the reported rise of anti-Semitism worldwide, there is a sense of urgency to impress on younger generations the horrors of the Holocaust to prevent such a thing from ever happening again.

Some 1.1 million people were systematically murdered at Auschwitz, about a million of them Jewish, before the camp was liberated by the Soviet Red Army on January 27, 1945.

Six million European Jews were murdered in German dictator Adolf Hitler´s quest to find a "final solution to the Jewish question" -- the worldwide extermination of Jews.

Millions of others -- gypsies, intellectuals, Soviet POWs, homosexuals -- were also killed at the concentration camps. Tens of millions of people died as a result of World War II.

On Thursday, more than 10,000 guests and 1,600 journalists were in Krakow, about 40 miles from Auschwitz, the most notorious of the Nazi´s extermination camps, to commemorate the anniversary.

Israeli President Moshe Katsav (the first speaker at the event), Vice President Dick Cheney, the presidents of Poland, Russia, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, the prime ministers of Italy and Greece, the British foreign minister and the queen of Holland are among those attending.

´No one cared´

Israel, which observes its own Holocaust Memorial Day in the spring, is commemorating Israel´s struggle against anti-Semitism on this 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, just as it did last year.

Prime Minister Sharon said the allies knew about the annihilation of the Jews during World War II. "They knew and did nothing," he said.

"On April 19, 1943, the Bermuda Conference gathered, with the participation of representatives from Britain and the United States, to discuss saving the Jews of Europe," Sharon told lawmakers at a special Knesset session on Wednesday.

"In fact, the participants did everything in their power to avoid dealing with the problem. All the suggestions for rescue operations, which the Jewish organizations presented, were rejected. They simply did not want to deal with it," he charged.

Sharon mentioned the Saint Louis, which set sail from Germany in 1939 with 1,000 Jews on board, who successfully escaped but were refused entry into Cuba and ports in the eastern U.S. and were forced to return to Europe, where most perished.

He also spoke about the British Mandate, which ruled the Holy Land at the time, and refused to allow Jewish refugees into Israel.

"Throughout the war, nothing was done to stop the annihilation [of the Jewish people]. When, in the summer of 1944, the mass deportations in Hungary were carried out, the allies did not bomb the train tracks, which led to Auschwitz from Hungary, nor the murder facilities in Birkenau, and this was despite the fact that they had the ability to do so," Sharon said.

The lesson learned, Sharon said, is that the Jewish people must never put their trust in man. But even when the Jews defend themselves, it angers anti-Semites, who present Israel as the aggressor and accuse it of taking Nazi-like steps.

Manifestations of anti-Semitism over the last few years are aimed not only at Jewish individuals but also at the the Jewish people as a whole and the State of Israel, he said.

"These days, the generation that was witness to the horrors is disappearing, and ignorance is increasing. Fewer people around the world have heard of the Holocaust or are aware of what happened in Auschwitz, and the manifestations of anti-Semitism are on the rise...

"Israel stands with governments as well as Jewish and international organizations around the world that remember Auschwitz and are determined to fight this evil uncompromisingly and relentlessly," he said.

Next generation

For the first time, Israel´s Education Ministry has made an organized effort to encourage teachers to instruct high school students here about anti-Semitism, said David Weinberg, coordinator of cabinet minister Natan Sharansky´s Global Forum Against Anti-Semitism.

As part of Sharansky´s initiative, teaching packets were distributed to high schools throughout the country, containing suggested lesson plans for teachers and visual aids such as posters displaying various kinds of anti-Semitism.

"For many years, Israel´s attitude toward anti-Semitism was, ´It´s not our problem. It´s the problem of Jews in the Diaspora [dispersion],´" said Weinberg. "And the solution Israelis suggested to Jews who were living abroad and troubled by anti-Semitism was "move to Israel," he added.

"Clearly Israel´s thinking has changed," Weinberg said. "Israel feels a greater responsibility for Jews in the Diaspora [and] Israel is a victim itself."

Anti-Semitism worldwide has burgeoned since the Palestinians accelerated their terror war against Israel in September 2000.

According to Weinberg, the idea is not to scare the students or make them feel that "the whole world is against us," but simply to give them a perspective and a sense of "historical consciousness".

Increasing anti-Semitism

Earlier this week, the Global Forum Against Anti-Semitism released an annual report showing a gradual increase in violent anti-Semitic events during 2004.

According to the report, the greatest number of events and the most serious attacks happened in Europe with a sharp increase in attacks against Jews and Jewish properties in Great Britain, Russia and the Ukraine.

The highest instance of anti-Semitic attacks was in France, but the level remained the same as last year, the report said.

Most of the attacks against Jews and Jewish facilities were perpetrated by Islamic elements, although there was also an increase in extreme right-wing activity.

"Incitement against Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda is increasingly acceptable in intellectual and other circles," the report said.

"Extreme anti-Israeli expression in the media continues to grow, feeding both right- and left-wing anti-Semites," it said.

Nevertheless, Sharansky called this year a "turning point" for countries in "understanding the dangers [of anti-Semitism] for their own democracies."

In 2004, governments and regional organizations adopted a number of intensive measures to combat anti-Semitism.

There was a recognition that extreme forms of anti-Israel propaganda contribute directly to the main forms of anti-Semitism, Sharansky said. (copyright 1998-2005 Cybercast News Service. 01/27/05)

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