Shapiro and Netanyahhu
Shapiro and NetanyahhuIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The US ambassador to Israel on Friday said the United States would not remain idle and be complicit in a second Holocaust.

"We must not allow another genocide to take place against the Jewish people or any other. And we should take seriously those who make such threats," Ambassador Dan Shapiro said at the main ceremony marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The ceremony was conducted with the participation of 70 foreign ambassadors and senior diplomatic staff.

"We have the responsibility to learn and teach the lessons of the Holocaust and prevent it from ever re-occurring. We have the responsibility not to be silent anymore," Shapiro continued.

"This day we remind ourselves that we cannot, and we must not, ignore the events of genocide and mass murder among mankind. Despite declarations from the international community to prevent such atrocities, we continue to witness mass murders and genocides. Millions around the world, from Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur and other places have fallen victim to genocide.

"Unfortunately we live in an era where there are those who deny the Holocaust and even threaten one another. We live in a time of growing nationalist extremism and communities polarized. There are growing and well cared for elements of violence. Daily news remind us constantly that genocide, anti-Semitism, religious intolerance or ethnic xenophobia, discrimination, bigotry and Holocaust denial, are here more than ever.

"But, Israel lives! What is different today is that the Jewish people has its own place – the State of Israel – free and strong and able to defend itself. And the State of Israel is not alone. The United States and many other friends are deeply committed to Israel's security. Together, we can and must work to ensure that threats of a new Holocaust never be fulfilled," Shapiro said.

Shapiro's comments were a mirror of those made by US President Barack Obama on Friday who said, "Together with the State of Israel, and all our friends around the world, we dedicate ourselves to giving meaning to those powerful words: 'Never Forget. Never Again."

Observers say both Shapiro and Obama were seeking to assure Israeli leaders of the good intentions of the United States amid tensions between Jerusalem and Washington over Iran's drive for nuclear weapons.

Iran, which has called for the destruction of Israel and called the Jewish state a "one bomb state," continued to thumb its nose at a raft of sanctions from Western nations and their Gulf Arab allies aimed at stopping Iran's nuclear ambitions in their tracks.

Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful, but the International Atomic Energy Agency says the Islamic Republic has sought - and continues to seek - nuclear technology that only has military applications.

Washington has insisted sanctions will successfully deter Iran and are pressuring Israeli leaders not to launch a military strike out of fear that such a move would lead to war in the Persian Gulf and a spike in gas prices during an election year.

Israeli leaders, however, remain unconvinced sanctions will prove effective and are said to be pressing for a military strike on Iran's nuclear program.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday warned foreign leaders in Davos, Switzerland that waiting too long to take decisive action on Iran would be a grave error.

"The situation is urgent, because the Iranians deliberately drifting to what we call a ‘resistant zone’ in which nothing will not block them," Barak said.