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Vow from Israelis' leader: No repeat of Holocaust

By Mark Lavie
Associated Press / April 21, 2009
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JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged yesterday not to allow Holocaust deniers the chance to carry out a second Holocaust against the Jewish people.

He spoke at the ceremony marking Israel's annual memorial day for the 6 million Jews killed by Nazis and their collaborators during World War II, but the event fell under the shadow of a UN anti-racism conference in Geneva perceived in Israel as anti-Semitic.

Netanyahu criticized the president of Switzerland for meeting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the conference. Netanyahu said the Iranian leader, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, has denied the existence of the Holocaust.

"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, speaking at Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust memorial and study center.

Also, Yad Vashem has been upgrading its website to offer research tools. Its latest entry is "The Untold Stories," devoted to documenting the massacres of Jews in small and medium-sized communities.

In research released to coincide with the memorial day, a demographer calculated that if the Holocaust had not occurred, the world's Jewish population would be more than double now.

Demographer Sergio DellaPergola of Hebrew University of Jerusalem built a model that projected there would be between 26 million and 32 million Jews today if the Holocaust had not occurred. DellaPergola said in an earlier study there were 13 million Jews worldwide in 2008.

He factored in destruction of cultural frameworks, increased intermarriage as a way of avoiding oppression, and the high proportion of children, more than 1 million, among the victims.

The memorial day continues today with the sounding of air-raid sirens for a nationwide minute of silence in memory of the victims.