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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Spain award to Yad Vashem: A small victory for truth

Spain is conferring an awad on Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum. This is a landmark for many reasons. Spain has not been known for its friendly relations with Israel or the Jewish people in the past, and its people usually score highest in anti-Semitism scales which ask questions such as "Do you agree that Jews talk about the Holocaust too much. " 
Another aspect of this award, is that for some reason, Holocaust denial and Holocaust minimization have moved from being the exclusive preoccupation of neo-Nazis and anti-Semites, and have been integrated into anti-Zionist rhetoric, not only in the Arab world, but among Jewish anti-Zionists. Recognition of Yad Vashem is recognition that "our version" has merit. In your face, Norman Finkelstein.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 14:04 16/09/2007    
By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Jewish World Correspondent

Yad Vashem, Jerusalem's Holocaust museum and memorial, is to receive this year's Prince of Asturias Award for Concord given by the Spanish royal family. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was of many world leaders who proposed and endorsed Yad Vashem to receive the award.
This year additional recipients of the award's eight categories include Israeli author Amoz Oz, former US Vice President Al Gore and Bob Dylan.
The Concord prize is awarded each year to a "person, persons or institution whose work has made an exemplary and outstanding contribution to mutual understanding and peaceful coexistence amongst men, to the struggle against injustice, poverty, disease or ignorance, to the defence of freedom, or whose work has widened the horizons of knowledge or has been outstanding in protecting and preserving mankind's heritage."
 Last year, it was awarded to UNICEF.
The jury said Yad Vashem received the award for being a a living memoir of a great historic tragedy, for its tenacious work fostering the memory for present and future generations, and for overcoming hate, racism and bigotry."
The prize of 50,000 euros will be awarded next month at Oviedo in Spain.
Among the long list of statesmen and public figures endorsing Yad Vashem are President Shimon Peres, Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos and U.S. presidential candidate Senator Hilary Clinton.
Merkel wrote in her endorsement of Yad Vashem for the prize that "it is a place against oblivion that returns to the victims of the crime against humanity, the Shoah, their names. Yad Vashem is also a place for hope. The hope for reconciling and understanding, for tolerance and humanity, for peace and good coexistence."
In a statement thanking the Prince of Asturias Foundation for the award, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev said that the award "recognizes that the memory of the Holocaust, the systematic murder of the Jews that took place in the heart of Europe, has profound significance for the coexistence of the family of nations, today, and through the ages."
"As the generation of the witnesses to these horrors dwindles, Yad Vashem will continue to transform their memory into building blocks for a better world, one characterized by tolerance and mutual respect amongst all peoples," Shalev added.

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