Holocaust has vital lessons for today, says Ban

24 January 2009

The Holocaust provides important lessons for the present, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, stressing the necessity to bolster the forces of harmony and dialogue.

In an address to mark the International Day of Commemoration honoring victims of the Holocaust at the Park East Synagogue in New York, Mr. Ban said that during a recent visit to the Middle East, he saw first-hand the suffering of both Israelis and Gazans.

“I said to all I met, on both sides: This must stop,” he stated.

“I left the region more determined than ever to work toward a world where two States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace and security. War can never be an answer,” the Secretary-General added, stressing that “we need to strengthen the forces of peaceful coexistence and dialogue.”

Mr. Ban stressed the need for frankness and for the recognition of the limits of power and goodwill.

“We here know that we can never entirely rid the world of its tyrants and its intolerance. We cannot turn all extremists to the path of reason and light,” he said. “We can only stand against them and raise our voices in the name of our common humanity.”

Paying tribute to the synagogue's Senior Rabbi Arthur Schneier and the late United States Congressman Tom Lantos, both of whom are Holocaust survivors, the Secretary-General called for the reaffirmation of “our faith in the dignity of humankind and our extraordinary resilience - our moral strength - even amid history's darkest chapters.”

In 2005, the General Assembly designated 27 January, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, as the International Day.

Next week, the United Nations will commemorate the fourth Day through panel discussions, exhibits and plays.


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