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International Holocaust Remembrance Day observed

Posted by Tip Staff - January 27, 2017
Never forget. The world commemorated the murder of six million Jews on Friday, January 27, which has been observed as Holocaust International Remembrance Day since 2005. The date was chosen because the Red Army liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp on January 27, 1945. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said, “Tragically, and contrary to our resolve, anti-Semitism continues to thrive.” He pledged to “be on the front line of the battle against anti-Semitism and all other forms of hatred.” Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło, who is a native of Oświęcim (where Auschwitz is located), called the Holocaust a “destruction of humanity” and referred to the “ocean of lost lives and hopes” that the Holocaust represented. “It’s an open wound that may close sometimes but it shall never be fully healed and it must not be forgotten,” she said. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, “History should be a lesson, warning and incentive all at the same time. There can and should be no end to remembrance.”

Auschwitz survivors gathered at the camp and walked from the “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate to the Black Wall, where tens of thousands of prisoners were executed, to pay their respects to the murdered. The commemoration ceremony then moved to nearby Birkenau, which housed the gassing and cremation facilities in which over one million Jews were killed.

A chief flight attendant on an Israel to Warsaw flight on LOT, the Polish national airliner, made an announcement commemorating the Jews murdered during the Holocaust, ending her statement with “shalom.” Flags were flown at half-mast throughout Germany, including at its parliament building. In Tirana, Albania, an olive tree was planted in homage to Albanian non-Jews who protected Jews during the Second World War. As the Associated Press reported, “Albania was the only country in Europe where the number of the Jews during World War II increased after the Muslim majority provided refuge to Jews fleeing other countries.”

Gruesome. Twenty people were hanged in Iran on Saturday, January 14 -- putting the country's death toll at 57 since the start of 2017. Most of those executed have been youths.

Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon blasted Iran for its “alarming rate” of executions and the lack of improvement made under the administration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a report released last October.

Ban was “deeply troubled” by accounts “of executions, floggings, arbitrary arrests and detentions, unfair trials, denial of access to medical care and possible torture and ill-treatment,” according to the 19-page assessment, the last one issued before his term expires.

He also expressed concern “about continued restrictions of public freedoms and the related persecution of civil society actors, the persistence of discrimination against women and minorities and conditions of detention.”

The rate of executions — which in 2015 reached a decade high of 966, according to the UN — is still a matter of concern to the world body, especially because trials “fall short of the international fair standards,” the report added.

Friends in faraway places. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin met with the envoys of 10 Asian-Pacific nations in Jerusalem on Wednesday, expressing his appreciation for their cooperation and a desire to further strengthen relations.

Speaking at his residence with ambassadors and charges d’affaires of Australia, India, South Korea, the Philippines, China, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Japan, Myanmar, and Nepal, Rivlin observed that “in the last decade we have increased the trade relationship between our peoples.”

“Today, 27 percent of Israel’s trade is now with the Asia-Pacific. The cooperation is wonderful and we are looking to extend our partnerships with every one of you, and all together,” he added.

Rivlin also highlighted the academic ties between Israel and the represented nations, saying that the exchange of students was a way to unite people.

Israel’s SpaceIL was announced yesterday as one of only five finalists remaining in the multi-million-dollar Google Lunar XPrize race to the moon. The other finalists are teams from India, Japan and the United States, as well as an international team of individuals from about 15 countries. The competition began 10 years ago with 33 teams vying to be the first to soft-land a privately funded, unmanned robot on the moon, move it 500 meters across the moon’s surface and transmit high-definition video and photos back to Earth. The top prize is $20 million, while the second to fulfill the requirements will receive $5 million. An additional $5 million in bonus prizes is to be awarded. Few would have expected a team from young, small Israel to hang in as others dropped out, but Israelis enjoy accomplishing seemingly impossible feats. (via Israel21c)

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