Israel wants members of the international community to cut ties with Iran until it changes its approach towards the former.
The Israeli ambassador to Nigeria, Michael Freeman, said this in Abuja while addressing journalists on Friday at an event to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“We have a country who is openly speaking about the destruction of another country within the UN and I think the only way that we will ever make a difference is the rest of the international community clear that it is unacceptable… to say we will not have dealings with a country that is calling for the destruction of another,” Mr Freeman said this in his response to a question.
Mr Freeman said that until Iran recognises Israel as a legitimate member of the world, and stops its call to destroy Israel and its nuclear weapon threat, it should be excluded.
Israel has repeatedly claimed that Iran seeks nuclear weapons for military purposes, an allegation the latter denies. Iran has been under sanctions by global powers for its nuclear programme. A deal Iran signed with world powers including the US and EU on its nuclear programme was unilaterally terminated by the US during the Donald Trump presidency.
Israel, which supported the US decision to cancel the nuclear deal, is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and has never admitted to owning nuclear weapons even though it is believed to possess some.
The rift between Israel and Iran dates back to 1979 after an Iranian revolution sacked the Shah of Iran who was an Israeli ally. An Islamic cleric, Ayatollah Khomeini, who took over the leadership of Iran was quoted as saying he wants Israel to disappear in order to liberate Jerusalem.
Iran has since refused to recognise Israel and has been a key ally of Palestinians who want their own country.
Holocaust Remembrance Day
Holocaust Remembrance Day is marked every 27 January to commemorate the date when the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Red Army in 1945.
The holocaust resulted in the murder of six million Jewish people as well as the Sinti and Roma, the people with disabilities, and countless others, between 1933 and 1945, by Nazi Germany, in an attempt to implement their “final solution” to the Jewish question.
The commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day was an initiative of the State of Israel and was established through the UN General Assembly resolution 60/7, eighteen years ago.
Holocaust was not inevitable
Speaking at the same event in Abuja, the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Matthias Schmale, noted that the holocaust, like any other genocide, was not inevitable.
“The Nazis moved from the discrimination of Jewish people to their annihilation because so few stood up and so few spoke out,” he said, adding that a deafening silence enabled their calculated cruelty and emboldened their murderous ambitions.
A similar message reverberated at the UN headquarters when UN Chief Antonio Guterres said “It was the deafening silence – both at home and abroad – that emboldened them. The alarm bells were ringing from the very beginning.”
He noted that hate speech and disinformation; contempt for human rights and the rule of law; glorification of violence and tales of racial supremacy, and disdain for democracy and diversity were at the centre of the holocaust.
“In remembering the Holocaust, we recognize threats to freedom, dignity, and humanity – including in our own time,” Mr Guterres said.
He added that the world must be more outspoken than it has ever been as the world contends with growing economic discontent and political instability, escalating white supremacists, terrorism, surging hate and religious bigotry.
The UN Chief said the world must never forget, nor allow others to ever forget, distort or deny the Holocaust.
Mr Schmale noted that the UN is at the forefront of making sure the world does not forget through its Holocaust Outreach Programme which has built a global network of educational resources, development programmes, film series, and exhibitions.
“We must go beyond remembrance, to ensure that younger generations know the history and apply the lessons of the Holocaust to the world of today,” he said.
The programme, he said, has helped share the stories of survivors, giving voice to this terrible warning from history, while informing audiences around the world.
“Today and every day, let us resolve to never again remain silent in the face of evil – and to always defend the dignity and rights of all,” Mr Guterres encouraged.
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