Israel honors Holocaust Remembrance Day

    8:20 AM, Apr 19, 2012   |    comments
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    JERUSALEM (CNN) -- On Wednesday night, Jews around the world marked the beginning of Holocaust Remembrance Day. In Jerusalem, a somber ceremony was held at the Yad Vashem memorial.

    Business and traffic throughout Israel came to a halt for a moment of silence about. The date falls on the 69th anniversary of the Jewish uprising against the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto.

    Once a year the siren sounds and for two minutes life in Israel comes to a halt. It's a solemn moment for Israelis to reflect as the country marks Holocaust Remembrance Day.

    The two day observation starts with a nationally televised ceremony at Israel's Holocaust Memorial where survivors light candles in commemoration of the six million Jews systematically killed in Nazi-controlled Europe during the second World War.

    It's also a time for the country's leaders to reflect on the lessons of the past and in the case of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a chance to warn about the future. Benjamin Netanyahu says, "People who dismiss the Iranian threat as a whim have learned nothing from the Holocaust."

    But it is comments like these have made some in Israel deeply uncomfortable. Labor Party member of Knesset Daniel Ben-Simon says, "We are talking about the Holocaust as it was here in the corner waiting for us to wipe out the Israelis - that's not it. You cannot tell people we live in 1938 Munich - We are in Israel in 2012."

    It's not the first time Netanyahu has very publicly invoked the Holocaust when talking about the perceived threat of a nuclear Iran. At a UN speech three years ago he condemned the Iranian president for Holocaust denial, waving the original construction plans for the Auschwitz concentration camp to make his point and earlier this year speaking in Washington he equated the lack of international action on Iran's nuclear program to the United States refusal in World War II to bomb Auschwitz even when implored to by the World Jewish Congress.

    It's an approach that Netanyahu offers no apologies for. Netanyahu says, "There are those who seek to destroy millions of Jews - not to say that is to insult the victims of the Holocaust."

    But even those who share Netanyahu's level of concern about Iran say using the language of the Holocaust is a risky strategy. Political analyst David Landau says, "It's a case of the man who cried wolf, so many times that when there was a real wolf some people found it hard to believe. He has prejudiced his own credibility by comparing almost everything that moves to Hitler and Nazis and Holocaust."

    Criticism notwithstanding it is unlikely Netanyahu will be changing his talking points any time soon, leaving it up to Israelis to decide for themselves when it is and is not appropriate to invoke the Holocaust.

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