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Avoid repeat of Holocaust, urges top Israeli diplomat

Tuesday January 27 2009

By JAMI MAKAN

Diplomats and members of Kenya’s Jewish community on Tuesday remembered the Holocaust during a special memorial service at the United Nations headquarters in Nairobi.

“On this day, we not only remember those people who perished; we also learn a lesson that it will never happen again,” said Israeli ambassador Jacob Keidar, whose ancestors were Holocaust victims.

The annual service was one of many that took place around the world yesterday. January 27 was set aside by the UN General Assembly to remember Jews and other minorities killed by the Nazi regime more than 60 years ago.

The UN, in a 2005 resolution, called the atrocities “a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice” and urged member countries to educate their citizens “to prevent future acts of genocide”.

An estimated six million Jews died at the hands of the Nazis, who regarded them as “racially inferior” and persecuted them in concentration camps and gas chambers. Other groups persecuted by Adolf Hitler’s regime included homosexuals, the disabled, gypsies and ideological opponents.

The German ambassador, Mr Walter Lindner, described the Holocaust as “the first industrialised, systematic killing of a population”. He cited conflicts in Rwanda and Darfur and said the international community needed to draw lessons from the Second World War.

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Also present were the head of Kenya’s Jewish community, Mr David Silverstein, and former Attorney-General Charles Njonjo.

On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon attended a similar ceremony in New York. He regretted that “our world continues to be plagued by violence, utter disregard for human rights, and the targeting of people solely for who they are”.