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Israel-Palestine war: UN ambassador slammed for stunt ‘dishonouring Holocaust victims’

Israeli diplomat Gilad Erdan came under fire from the head of Yad Vashem holocaust memorial who said Jewish people now 'have an independent country and a strong army'
Israel's UN ambassador Gilad Erdan seen here wearing a yellow star at the UN Security Council, which symbolised Jewish persecution at the hands of the Nazi's (AFP)
Israel's UN ambassador Gilad Erdan seen here wearing a yellow star at the UN Security Council on 30 October 2023, which symbolised Jewish persecution at the hands of the Nazis (AFP)

The head of Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial condemned Israel’s United Nations ambassador for "dishonouring" the memory of Holocaust victims on Tuesday. 

On Monday, Gilad Erdan wore a yellow star, a symbol Jews were forced to wear by the Nazis, during a UN Security Council meeting on the ongoing Israel-Palestine hostilities in which more than 1300 Israelis and close to 9000 Palestinians have been killed.

Yad Vashem head, Dani Dayan, described the stunt as one that “dishonours both the victims of the Holocaust and the State of Israel”.

“The yellow patch symbolises the helplessness of the Jewish people and being at the mercy of others. Today we have an independent country and a strong army,” Dayan posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “We are masters of our destiny. Today we place a blue-white flag on the lapel, not a yellow patch,” he added. 

The spat comes after Israel's envoy to the UN denounced the Security Council for "staying silent" over Hamas’ surprise assault on Israel on 7 October.

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"Some of you have learned nothing in the past 80 years," he said. "Some of you have forgotten why this body was established.

"So, I will remind you. From this day on, each time you look at me you will remember what staying silent in the face of evil means," the ambassador said.

The 15-member UN Security Council has failed to adopt a single resolution on the war between Israel and Hamas, now in its fourth week.

Follow Middle East Eye's live coverage for the latest on the Israel-Palestine war

The failure reflects deep division between the US, UK and France on the one hand and the other members of the Security Council. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the attacks, which Israeli officials say killed 1,400 people, the worst against the Jewish people since the Holocaust.

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Yad Vashem, however, has cautioned against making such a comparison. 

In a statement on Monday it said that while Hamas’ actions were “genocidal in its intents” it didn’t warrant a Holocaust comparison. 

“Part of why it differs from the Holocaust is because Jews have today a state and an army. We are not defenseless and at the mercy of others,” said Yad Vashem. 

“One must be careful not to jump to conclusions equating the two until sufficient research is done delving into the underlying aspects of these two ideologies,” Dayan told Jewish News Syndicate

“Comparisons to historic events must be addressed carefully not to belittle or marginalise both the past and present. If everything is a Holocaust, then what is a Holocaust? If nothing can be compared to a Holocaust, how can we learn to recognise certain trends and ensure that they never repeat themselves?” Vad Vashem added in its statement.

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