Hundreds gathered for a solemn vigil at the Iranian Mission to the United Nations on Sunday afternoon in New York City, to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day. An Israeli flag was held aloft by participants, and several feet away stood six burning torches, representing the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis during World War II.
The New York Association of Holocaust Survivors, Amcha-Coalition for Jewish Concerns, Americans For a Safe Israel (AFSI), the Jewish Political Education Foundation, the One Israel Fund, Stand With Us, Z Street, and the Zionist Organization of America supported the rally. Organizers indicated that the objective of the gathering was to "protest the spread of defamation and libel against Israel and the Jewish people, threats against Israel's existence and funding for international terror by the Iranian regime".
Among the speakers were New York State Assemblymen Dov Hikind (D) and David Weprin, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, of New York City's 8th congressional district, Rabbi Allen Schwartz,of Congregation Ohev Tzedek on Manhattan's upper west side, Rabbi Yaakov Lerner of Young Israel of Great Neck, Rabbi Dale Polakoff of the Great Neck Synagogue and political activist Jeff Wiesenfeld.
Decrying the "hypocrisy of the UN and the whole world", Rep. Nadler declared, "we must take any action to ensure that there is no second Holocaust," and said that "all options should be on the table" as far as stopping Iran is concerned.
"Remembering the Holocaust is quite commendable, but what is needed now is a bold plan of Jewish activism," said Rep. Hikind, a former member of the Jewish Defense League. "Our enemies are closing in on us at blinding speed and our very existence as a people is at stake and no Jewish organizations have offered a concrete plan of action.
The son of a survivor of Auschwitz, Hikind added: "We are an orphaned generation. What the Jewish community is sorely lacking today is authentic Jewish leadership, that was epitomized by Rabbi Meir Kahane, of blessed memory. We need organizations and leaders who can mobilize thousands of Jews to take to the streets near the United Nations in September and declare our collective outrage over the proposed unilateral vote on the creation of a Palestinian state that is sworn to destroy Israel and the Jewish people."
Also the son of a survivor, Rabbi Schwartz of Congregation Ohev Tzedek warned that "Ahmadinejad wants to visit a new Holocaust on Israel while denying the veracity of the Holocaust that happened 70 years ago. We must act to transform Yom HaShoah into Yom Ha'Atzmaut; a day of darkness into a day of light."
"Israel, which sends healing across the world in times of crises, has become a pariah state", said Rabbi Lerner of Young Israel of Great Neck. "Amalek lives on in the form of Ahmadinejad and others who represent an existential peril to Israel."
Rabbi Polakoff of the Great Neck Synagogue stated, "Remembering the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah is a misnomer. We must remember the lessons of this chapter of Jewish history every single day. If we don't remember, who will?"
Emcee Wiesenfeld took note of the few Neturei Karta counter-protestors across the street who unfurled a Palestinian flag, and warned them that "if Ahmadinejad ever had his way with Israel and Jews, they'd be the first to go."
The vigil was sponsored by Lynne Bursky and Nessim Tammam of Great Neck, New York who organized buses from points outside of New York City to transport rally participants, including a sizable contingent of Jews from the former Soviet Union.