Michael Oren - April 19, 2012
Michael Oren speaking at a Holocaust Remembrance Day event in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol on April 19, 2012. Photo by AFP
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Israel's ambassador to the United States Michael Oren commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day on Capitol Hill on Thursday, along with other U.S. officials and members of Congress, and warned against Iran and the possibility of another holocaust.

Among the officials who attended the Thursday's ceremony were U.S. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner, diplomats, leaders of Jewish organizations, and veterans of the Second World War.

Oren spoke about trivialization of the Holocaust. “We must not allow the memory of the six million to be trivialized. Human history is rife with atrocities, massacres, and wars, but nothing that can be equated with the enormity of the Holocaust. It is profoundly, unbearably, unique,” said Oren.

Oren then turned the focus of his speech toward current times. “At the same time, we must also acknowledge that evil did not appear suddenly in the 1930s and depart in 1945, never to return again. We must admit that the genocidal hatred of Jews that burned during those years remains a fierce and re-combustible scourge. We cannot ignore the similarities between the conditions that fostered the Holocaust and those we now witness daily,” warned Oren.

Comparing the conditions of pre-war Germany with the situation in Iran today, Oren described both as “economies in crisis, following a war,” and likened the “supreme leaders” of each regime to one another. Mentioning Iran directly, Oren said, “It denies the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis while pledging to murder another six million—in Israel.”

Oren spoke about possible responses to the Iranian threat. “We now have the opportunity—indeed, the duty—to confront Iranian leaders with the unambiguous choice never posed to the Nazis,” said Oren.

“The Iranian regime can either abandon its military nuclear program or face truly crippling sanctions and a credible military threat,” he continued.

Addressing the American military veterans in attendance, Oren said “my father was one of those GIs. He battled from Normandy to the Bulge to the final victory, winning two bronze stars for valor.”

Oren thanked the veterans by saying “Not only as your son, but as Israel’s ambassador to this great nation, I want to say thank you, Dad, and thank you to all the brave Americans who fought alongside you.”

Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner also spoke at the ceremony. “When we think about the Holocaust, we are forced to come to terms with more than just the evil of Adolf Hitler. We must also confront the failures that allowed this genocide to occur -- the moral failures, the institutional failures, the cowardice and apathy and hate,” said Geithner.

A commemoration ceremony for Holocaust Remembrance Day is set to be held at the Pentagon, with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Defense Minister Ehud Barak expected to attend. The two were said to be discussing regional issues earlier in the day.