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      Holocaust and Heroism Day Begins Tonight

      Vatican backs down from a threat to boycott this year’s ceremony because of criticism of Pius XII. Yad Vashem: the threat was inappropriate
      By Ezra Ha'Levi
      First Publish: 4/15/2007, 7:32 PM

      Yom HaShoah v’HaGevura (Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day) will begin Sunday evening, memorializing the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators, as well as honoring those who rose up to fight them.

      The state ceremony will begin at 8 PM at the Yad VaShem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. It will be led by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and acting President Dalia Itzik and attended by dignitaries representing every country with an embassy in Israel

      The Vatican has backed down from a threat by Ambassador Monsignor Antonio Franco to publicly boycott this year’s ceremony, in protest of a caption in one of the museum’s exhibits referring to Pope Pius XII’s silence at the murder of Jews during the Holocaust. The Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority says it would have been the first time that a dignitary has purposely and publicly boycotted the ceremony.
      "We believe that the Vatican's representative's decision to attend the ceremony at Yad Vashem and identify with the memory of the victims is the right thing to do," a Yad Vashem statement read. "Yad Vashem believes that it was inappropriate to link an issue of historical research with commemoration of the victims of the Holocaust."
      The New York-based Anti-Defamation League had condemned the boycott plan, calling on the Vatican to open its wartime archives if it was certain of Pope Pius XII’s innocence of any complicity with Nazi genocide. ADL Director Abe Foxman, himself a Holocaust survivor, said, "Without the public release and analysis of the Vatican's wartime archives, the questions about Pope Pius XII will remain unresolved."

      The Foreign Ministry stopped short of criticizing the Vatican, saying, "The state ceremony at Yad Vashem is designed to honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, the most traumatic event in Jewish history and one of the most traumatic events in human history.."

      Some religious Jews do not observe Yom HaShoah, believing that the mourning of central Jewish tragedies such as the destruction of the Holy Temples and other mass-killings of Jews on Tisha B’Av encompass the Holocaust as well. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel fixed the the Fast of the Tenth of Teveth as a general day of reciting the Kaddish prayer on in memory of those murdered in the Holocaust, many of whose date of death is not known. Yom HaShoah is marked on the Hebrew date of Nisan 27th, the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

      The central theme of this year's state ceremony is “bearing witness.” A Foreign Ministry statement says that it comes “at a time when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called the Holocaust a ‘myth’ and has repeatedly threatened to wipe Israel off the map.”

      Other ceremonies include one for security forces at Kibbutz Tel Yitzchak, which will feature the last surviving witnesses from the trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann, who was executed by Israel for his role in the Holocaust.

      All recreational sites and businesses will be closed according to law Sunday evening.

      A two-minute siren will sound Monday morning at 10 AM, after which a wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the Warsaw Ghetto uprising memorial at Yad VaShem.

      Following that ceremony, the names of those murdered in the Holocaust will be recited at both Yad VaShem and the Knesset.

      Monday evening, Kibbutz Lohamei Haghettaot will present its annual Holocaust memorial progam.

      An ADL poll found that 37 percent of Israel’s youth believe another Holocaust is a possibility and six percent believe that there is a significant chance it will occur.

      The survey was conducted among 500 Israeli youths between the ages of 15 and 18.

      Daniel Pearl to be Added to Holocaust Memorial
      American Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl, who was murdered by Al-Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan in 2002, will be added to a Holocaust Memorial Wall in Miami Beach, Florida Sunday.

      Pearl is the first victim of Islamic terrorism to be added to a Holocaust memorial event. The decision was initiated by a local Holocaust Memorial committee and embraced by Pearl’s family.

      “Of course he was not a victim of the Holocaust,” Pearl’s father told The Miami Herald. “[But] the same forces that killed my grandparents in Auschwitz, the forces of hatred, are still operating in our world in the 21st century - and Danny is one of the victims.”

      Pearl’s last words before Islamists decapitated him with a sword in front of a video camera were “I am a Jew.”