As Israel was commemorating the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day, traffic ground to a halt as a two-minute siren sounded throughout the country, during which Israelis held a moment of silence in memory of the six million Jews who were slaughtered under Nazi rule.
A series of ceremonies are taking place throughout the country to honor victims and survivors of the Holocaust. In Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem museum, officials will lay wreaths at a monument dedicated to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced Wednesday what he called “poisonous” anti-Israeli propaganda in the West which he compared to Nazism, in remarks on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“What led to the Holocaust is the incitement to hatred that continues today against Israel,” said Netanyahu.
“Anti-Semitism didn’t disappear with the death of Hitler in his bunker… propaganda in the Western world against Israel is no less poisonous than that of extremist Islam and the Arab world,” he said.
Netanyahu singled out “British parliamentarians, Swedish officials and opinion leaders in France” for criticism in his comments at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center.
“If throughout history, Jews were designated as enemies of humanity, today it is the state of the Jews that is the enemy of humanity, and this lie has no bounds,” he said, referring to Israel.
Recalling a recent UNESCO resolution on the status of Jerusalem, he accused the UN’s cultural body of “spreading lies transforming victims into aggressors and aggressors into victims”.
In a brief ceremony marking the start of Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel, six survivors lit candles in memory of the six million Jews killed by the Nazis.
A 2015 study found that some 45,000 of Israel’s estimated remaining 190,000 Holocaust survivors are now living in poverty.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is held on January 27 but Israel commemorates it separately on Thursday.
About six million Jews died at the hands of Nazi Germany and its allies during World War II.
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