- The Washington Times - Monday, April 20, 2009

JERUSALEM (AP) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Monday not to allow Holocaust deniers to carry out a second Holocaust against the Jewish people.

Speaking at the ceremony marking Israel’s annual memorial day for the 6 million Jews killed by Nazis and their collaborators during World War II, Netanyahu also described a U.N. anti-racism conference under way in Geneva as an anti-Israel event.

The hawkish prime minister, who took office about three weeks ago, criticized the president of Switzerland for meeting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the conference. Netanyahu called Ahmadinejad a Holocaust denier who wants to perpetrate another massacre of Jews.

“We will not allow the Holocaust deniers to carry out another Holocaust against the Jewish people. This is the supreme duty of the state of Israel. This is my supreme duty as prime minister of Israel,” Netanyahu said.

The ceremony was clearly influenced by the gathering in Geneva, perceived in Israel as a meeting of anti-Semites trying to blacken Israel’s name. The convening of the conference on the eve of the annual Holocaust memorial day featured in public remarks by officials as well as comments in Israeli media.

In his address, President Shimon Peres criticized the anti-racism conference for hosting Ahmadinejad, whom Peres called a Holocaust denier. “It’s an absolute disgrace,” Peres said.

Earlier Monday at the conference, the hard-line Iranian president took aim at Israel, accusing the Jewish state of being the “most cruel and repressive racist regime.”

The memorial day, which began after sunset, continues Tuesday with the sounding of air-raid sirens for a nationwide minute of silence in memory of the victims, followed by an official wreath-laying ceremony at Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem.

In honor of the solemnity of the day, restaurants, bars and places of entertainment are closed across the country.

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