Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

Israel: Reflections on the Holocaust Memorial Day and Durban II

Yesterday was the national holocaust memorial day in Israel. Coincidentally, it was also the opening day of the highly contested UN Durban II conference on racism in Geneva. Dozens of delegates have walked out as Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave his talk, in which he described Israel as a “racist government”. His words: “The UN security council has stabilized this occupation regime and supported it in the last 60 years giving them a free hand to continue their crimes,” as dozens of diplomats from countries including Britain and France left the hall in protest.

Israeli ambassador to Switzerland was recalled and returned to Jerusalem following the Swiss presidents’ meeting with the Iranian leader. Shimon Peres said earlier in the day: “There is a limit to Switzerland's neutrality, and there is a border which must not be crossed. Everyone should realize that Iran is a country where people are lynched in the street for no good reason. It is the world center for terrorism and bloodshed.”

As the national holocaust memorial day unfolds, Israeli bloggers reflect and question the meaning of the day's events.

Bravejeworld describes the events at the conference:

Mahmoud Ahmedinajad proceeded to prove all the anti-Durban I protestors right this afternoon as he launched into a predictable tirade against Israel and the Jewish people. Contrary to the principles and claimed purpose of the UN backed conference, Iranian's president proved to the world how hypocritical he actually is as by standing directly opposed to everything the Western world holds dear. As a result, many world leaders walked out of the conference as he began his speech to the delight and pleasure of the many spectators and thus reducing the conference to the shambles many were hoping it would be.

Dr. Ori Amity affirms how the Palestinian problem is certainly not related to race, nor is genocide, as Ahmadinejad claims:

True, the Iranian president is a ridiculous character, but especially with this type of person, we cannot stay silent. And before everything, it is necessary to refer to his accusation of genocide. With the Israeli Laissez-faire mentality, and some failures found here and there, if there was a masterplan to kill all Palestinians, we all would have noticed it by now: gas chambers in the Erez checkpoint, firing squads and death marches from Hebron to Jenin – someone would have already noticed, no?

The claims (towards Israel) over racism are somewhat right, especially with regards to the 1970's immigration law, which provides immediate citizenship even to the children and grandchildren of Jews, and not only to the Jews themselves. This is exactly the difference between discrimination on the basis of race versus religion. And still, the president is not worried about this law, but about the Palestinian problem. There are many different types of problems here, but certainly not based on race.

An important lesson learned from the holocaust is – never become indifferent to another person's suffering – especially if you are the cause. The Palestinian suffering is a fact, and the abstention from finding a solution for many years is unjust for both sides. This serves as a constant reminder that not everything is good, and if we will not act to fix the situation, we might lose that which today seems as most obvious.

Adi Shternberg brings up the example of Europe pre-WWII relating to the danger of non-action:

Hitler came into political rule in a legitimate manner. He made his way to the top against all odds, and proved he had political and strategical capabilities. All this would not have happened if the European countries would have stood strong and shown military might while it was still possible. Nazi Germany was far from powerful in its first years. France, England, Poland and Russia could have stopped the Nazi snowball in its first years… before it became too late; before history was written in blood.

The mere fact of organizing a conference such as Durban II during the formal holocaust memorial day, shows the historical and generational blindness that this ancient European continent has. Europe was totally destroyed during the world war, and could have prevented this. Europe lets this terrible conference take place – the type of gathering that supports the dark forces of the world. Europe can still stop this. It is not too late.

Navka writes:

Must it be on this day? When we remember the atrocities that happened in the world – the murder of millions of people because of hate, with no good reason.
Durban II conference opened, where the honorary guests Ahmadinejad gives a racist speech against Israel.
We must not provide these terrible people with a stage where they can open their mouths this way…


  • Thanks for the linkback and quote.
    You’re welcome to do so anytime.

  • MERC

    Dr A, do you mean by “a free and proud Palestine” the current collection of impoverished, walled-in ghettos policed by collaborationist Palestinian kapos, and subjected to periodic raids and pogroms by Israeli occupation forces and settlers?

    • No, by any means.
      I mean the state envisioned as part of the two-state peace deal. It is in this context that the possibility of annexing Umm-el-Fahm (and other towns and villages) to Palestine is raised and discussed.

      If you believe that a two-state solution is viable (I’m not sure of it myself, but most people seem to think so), then the possibility of land swaps should be discussed in all earnestness.

  • MERC

    I see, the state that only exists in your mind, not the impoverished, walled-in, ghettos policed by collaborationist Palestinian kapos that actually exists? Seen a doctor lately?

    • Merc –

      Please read carefully:
      a) some people are not satisfied with cynicism and irony, but actually strive for peace.

      b) the most popular plan for peace envisions two states between the Jordan and the sea – Israel and Palestine. Both states will be independent, but given the geography of the land they cannot but have close connections with each other.

      c) change of sovereignty over the suggested Arab city, towns and villages will only take place as part of the comprehensive deal in (b).

      I strongly suggest that you think about peace for a while. Try to imagine what it will entail, what the situation will be like. As long as you refer to any future plans and situations in the same terms that prevail in the present, the future will look like the present. This is exactly what those of us from (a) are trying to prevent.

  • Jason Paz

    Syrians, Palestinians and Israelis share the same Y-chromosome. All three group ancestries date back thousands of years in this area. Please, let us abandon the silly talk about racism and Jews not belonging here. Palestinians in Israel enjoy more human rights and respect than they receive anywhere in the Arab world.
    Too long we have wasted our energies and resources on useless wars. After the oil revenues vanish, the nations will not have the funds to engage in violence. Their children may pursue a practical career instead of indulging in inflammatory rhetoric.

  • MERC

    But Jason, Israel doesn’t need oil to engage in violence, just a pipeline to the United States.

  • Jenna Major

    We remember those who were murdered, those who survived, and those who
    risked everything to try and save a little. It’s a daunting task, but
    necessary if we truly mean “never again.” Best Bankruptcy Attorney

  • Karen Patrick

    I cannot quite get my head around believing that someone could actually
    commit these crimes willingly, although I am in no way saying they
    didn’t happen, simply because I do not think I could ever force myself
    to do them no matter what the consequences. Learning about this subject
    has no doubt made me look at the world in a different light. On one end
    of the spectrum, I am thankful for what I have and hopeful that the
    world will never experience something like this again, but on the other
    end, I am distraught to know that if an act like this happened once, it
    could very well happen again. Hopefully next time, the world as a whole
    will be more prepared. Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency

No thanks, show me the site