Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Simon Wiesenthal - A Year After His Death

This is a message from the Simon Wiesenthal Center:

One year ago on September 19, 2005, the world lost the conscience of the Holocaust, Simon Wiesenthal, who brought to justice some of the worst perpetrators of the Final Solution, responsible for the murder of 6 million Jews. I would have hoped that on his first yahrtzeit (anniversary of his death) we could say that the world is headed in a safer direction and that it has learned from its past mistakes about the consequences of hate and terror. But one year later to the day of Simon’s passing, September 19, 2006, the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who believes the Holocaust is a myth and has called for the destruction of Israel, is speaking to world leaders from the rostrum of the United Nations General Assembly, an organization founded as a response to the Nazi genocide.
Can there be a more frightening symbol of a world gone astray than the world’s foremost Holocaust denier being treated as an equal by the community of nations without paying any price for his state-sponsored terrorism and bigotry?

Such acceptance is not unique to the General Assembly, which is why our office in Paris protested the decision of UNESCO to hold a Prayer For Peace in Lebanon making no mention of Israeli victims, as if the cause of the war, Hezbollah’s unprovoked attack on Israel, never happened.

This ‘one-sided, blame it all on Israel’ approach is what also drives the academic and cultural boycotts against the Jewish state. Some intellectuals and their allies among NGOs want to change the rules and turn the perpetrators into victims and the victims into perpetrators. There are never any academic and cultural boycotts against Iran and the Arab world for their mistreatment of women or denial of basic human rights. It is only Israel that they seek to turn into a pariah state.

The coverage of the conflict from some media outlets left the impression that the only civilians who suffered lived in Lebanon. The million Israeli citizens, forced to leave their homes and businesses, received scant attention. Worse, the mainstream media often portrayed Sheik Nasrallah as a guerilla leader, rather than a notorious antisemite and terrorist. The Hezbollah leader’s genocidal words of hate were given no airtime. No one replayed his speeches where he said, “If the Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” Or, “Anyone who reads the Koran and the holy writings of the Monotheistic religions sees what they did to the prophets…they are a cancer which is liable to spread again at any moment….

Today in Geneva the Wiesenthal Center is bringing a delegation of Israel’s civilian population to a meeting with Louise Arbour, the High Commissioner of the UN Human Rights Council, to demand that the international community take action against Hezbollah’s war crimes against hospitals, schools and houses of worship.

We must not forget who the main patron of Hezbollah is: Tehran.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks during the 14th Nonaligned Summit in Havana, Cuba, Friday, Sept. 15, 2006. Representatives of the 118 Non-Aligned Movement countries condemned Israel's attacks on Lebanon and voiced, "grave concern"...over the..."growing unlawful policies and practices being carried out by Israel."

Henry Kissinger warned last week that Europe and the United States should put aside their differences over Iraq and devote their energies to Iran to head off a, “war of civilizations.” In Israel, Professor Moshe Sharon, a professor of Islamic studies at the Hebrew University told a counter terrorism conference that the Iranian regime genuinely believes that the twelfth Imam is here and that he would reveal himself only through an apocalypse.

These are times that demand action and the Simon Wiesenthal Center is on the front lines doing the work that needs to be done in Europe, North America and across the globe. But we cannot do it without your help.

Please respond generously to this Rosh Hashanah appeal. There is no more meaningful way to observe the yahrtzeit of Simon Wiesenthal than by helping strengthen the Center in his name.
Wishing you and your families, L’Shana Tova, a healthy and happy New Year.

Rabbi Marvin Hier
Founder and President
Simon Wiesenthal Center

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