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March of the Living Leads Thousand in Memorial & Protest against Durban-2

mol.jpgIn the presence of nearly 10,000 people at the site of the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp, the March of the Living voiced a united declaration of memorial and protest against continued acts of intolerance and hatred.

Coinciding with the Durban Review Conference in Geneva where Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad verbally attacked Israel’s right to exist only a day earlier, the March’s themes and messages focused heavily on the increasing dangers posed by the Iranian regime.

Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom represented his country in leading the March that departed from the Auschwitz camp under a banner reading “Marching in Remembrance Against Hate”.  In his remarks Shalom said “Our presence here today is a symbol of the victory of humanity over evil… Iran represents a threat to the existence of the entire free world, and it is vitally important that we realize this soon…If Iran is not stopped, there will be a very dangerous arms race, which will undermine stability and peace not only in our region but throughout the world.”

The deputy prime minister lauded the efforts of the increasing list of nations including the United States, Australia, Canada and Poland who had chosen to boycott participation in the Conference in Geneva, saying “The Durban Review Conference is living proof, a wake-up call for us all –  the world has not yet learned the lessons of what happened 64 years ago.”

Canadian Parliament member and leading human rights advocate Professor Irwin Cotler was also in Poland for the March of the Living having come directly from events protesting the Conference in Geneva. “We must act against racism, hate, anti-Semitism, mass atrocity, injustice — against the crime of crimes whose name we should even shudder to mention — genocide — and always, always, against indifference, against being bystanders to injustice; while always, always, pursuing justice,” said Cotler in his remarks at an emotional ceremony that concluded the three kilometer march between the Auschwitz concentration camp and the Birkeanu Death Camp.

The March, which saw representation by students from over 40 nations, was also addressed by Rabbi Israel Meir Lau Shlita, Israel’s former Chief Rabbi and current Chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.  Rabbi Lau, himself a child survivor of the Holocaust, has attended every March of the Living since its inception in 1988.

Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, Chairman of the International March of the Living, said that the event pointed to the fact that despite the passage of nearly six and a half decades since the liberation of Europe, the world had failed to learn the true lessons of the dangers posed by regimes built on policies of hatred. “If we are to ever truly memorialize the millions killed by the Nazis, we must be sure that the international community be united in condemnation of people like the Iranian president.  Our March today, just like those we have been leading for the past twenty-one years, should serve as a message that mankind can never again stand silent in the face of these demagogues.”

About the March of the Living:

Since 1988, the March of the Living has brought over 120,000 students to Poland to participate in educational missions aimed at better understanding the horrors of the Holocaust.  Attracting the participation of youth from over 40 nations around the world, the organization has been recognized as an international leader in furthering Holocaust education. The program works to ensure that the lessons gained while on the March are then channeled towards strongly combating acts of anti-Semitism and intolerance and promoting a heightened sense of communal responsibility and Jewish identity.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)

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