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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 January, 2005, 14:53 GMT
Auschwitz formalities rile Israeli press
Israeli press graphic

Israeli newspapers have responded to the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz with extensive and mostly critical comment on how the event is being marked.

Several papers appear dissatisfied with this week's remembrance ceremonies, with one commenting that speeches are easier than action.

Another paper looks at the significance of the Holocaust for Israel's sense of identity.

"The 27 January has become the all-European Holocaust day," one commentator says in the popular Maariv, but warns that simply holding ceremonies may not be enough.

"If those ceremonies are summed up in rituals of formally doing one's duty, we do not need them. We do not need forgiveness ceremonies. Especially since we are not allowed to forgive."

It is much easier to give speeches condemning anti-Semitism and its horrors than to take action to eliminate the phenomenon

Referring to the songs of remembrance sung at many ceremonies, the commentator adds that "60 years after Auschwitz, singing is possible and necessary providing it truly expresses pain and hope".

The special United Nations memorial session on Monday attracts strong criticism in the Jerusalem Post for being what it regards as an empty gesture.

"The UN General Assembly for the first time held a special session to commemorate the liberation of the Nazi death camps and the Holocaust. Does this mean that the UN is no longer hostile to the Jewish people?" the paper asks.

Its answer is clear: "No, it does not."

The daily-of-record Haaretz takes a similar, although less categorical line in its editorial.

"Despite the importance of such ceremonies, it is much easier to give speeches condemning anti-Semitism and its horrors than to take action to eliminate the phenomenon."

The state of Israel is the insurance company of the Jewish people
Yediot Aharonot

Moving away from the ceremonies themselves, Yediot Aharonot, Israel's most widely read newspaper, outlines in its editorial what it believes the anniversary as a whole to mean for Israel.

"This is the message that should come out of Israel and go to all corners of the world: Every Jew is our responsibility. The state of Israel is the insurance company of the Jewish people."

'Human animal'

A Haaretz commentary takes a more distanced view, putting "the greatest catastrophe ever to befall the Jewish civilisation" in the context of the recent tsunami disaster in South-East Asia.

"Powerful alert systems must be built not only against the fury of nature," it says, "such as a tsunami or hurricane or eruption, but also against the folly of man."

"Because we know from bitter experience," it concludes, "that the human animal is capable of the worst and of the best, of madness and of genius; and that the unthinkable, the unimaginable, remains possible."

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