- The Washington Times - Monday, April 23, 2007

Day of anger

The Israeli ambassador called Holocaust Remembrance Day a time for expressing anger at those who commit genocide and those who ignore the crime against humanity, as well as a time to express gratitude to the heroes who stand against the mass murderers.

“Today is a day of deep sadness, but it is also a day of anger: anger at the perpetrators; anger at those who willingly collaborated; anger at those who knew the truth and did nothing,” Ambassador Sallai Meridor said at a congressional commemoration ceremony last week.

Mr. Meridor also called the annual remembrance observation a “day of soul-searching.”

“Have we fully learned the lessons of the Holocaust?” he asked. “When genocide occurs today, does the world do its utmost to confront evil?”

Compounding his questions, the ambassador referred to the lack of effective international action against Iran, where President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies that the Nazis killed millions of Jews and threatens to attack Israel.

“When a hate-filled regime denies the Holocaust, when it openly declares its intention to wipe Israel off the map, when it threatens the safety of the world and seeks to destroy our values and way of life — does the world fully recognize the danger, and is it doing all, all it can to prevent it?” he asked.

Mr. Meridor added that the annual commemoration must also be a time for commitment.

“Today we must make a commitment that the cry of ‘never again’ will not become just an empty promise,” he said. “Today we must make a commitment that the Jewish people will never be defenseless again and that the state of Israel will forever be safe and strong.”

He also praised those who saved Jews during World War II.

“Today is also a day of gratitude: Gratitude to the courageous individuals who risked their own lives to save others; from the righteous gentile who hid a Jewish child to the brave American soldiers who liberated the death camps,” he said.

Fruit of the vine

The planting of a grapevine from Afghan stock in the California wine country, took on a symbolic quality, as Afghan Ambassador Said T. Jawad drew attention to the struggle for peace in his South Asian nation.

“I am part of the historic partnership between California and Afghanistan and the tremendous good will that exists in Napa Valley for the fertile plains of Afghanistan,” Mr. Jawad said at the planting ceremony earlier this month.

He planted a grapevine genetically descended from a collection of Afghan grapevine root stalk originally collected in 1948 by the late viticulturist, Harold Olmo, who taught at the University of California at Davis.

The ceremony was co-sponsored by the Roots of Peace, an organization that removes land mines from countries recovering from war, and Copia, the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts in Napa Valley.

“For over 50 years, farmers and specialists from the breadbasket of the United States have traveled halfway across the world to Afghanistan,” Mr. Jawad said. “I hope to communicate our gratitude today, as I plant this symbol of our continued partnership, the Sahebi grapevine, one of the best grapes in the world, from my hometown of Kandahar.”

Mr. Jawad praised Roots of Peace for removing more than 100,000 land mines from Afghanistan and training 10,000 farmers to grow grapes, instead of heroin poppies. About 10 million land mines still “lurk beneath Afghanistan’s often-stunning terrain,” he said.

Heidi Kuhn, founder and chief executive officer of Roots of Peace, added, “This grapevine is a wonderful symbol of the shared heritage between farmers from our two countries. It will serve as a permanent reminder for all visitors to Copia of the seeds we have in common and the hope that peace may be planted from Napa Valley to Afghanistan.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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