The annual ceremony marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day was held Wednesday at the UN General Assembly.
In an unprecedented move, Israeli ambassador to the UN Danny Danon gave up his seat and invited Holocaust survivor Martha Weiss to represent Israel in his stead.
"We must not bury our heads in the sand in light of the extreme and anti-Semitic manifestations of hatred of Israel which has become the modern anti-Semitism," Danon said as he introduced Weiss. "Holocaust survivors need to stand today in the forefront."
Weiss, 81, immigrated to Israel from Australia 18 years ago and lives in Jerusalem. In her speech, she addressed her personal story as a survivor as well as the importance of commemorating the Holocaust, especially amid rising anti-Semitism in Europe.
"If the world does not take anti-Semitism seriously, the Holocaust could happen again," Weiss told the UN. "All of the nations of the world must unite against anti-Semitism and not let it raise its head ever again."
The UN's Department of Public Information organized the event which was attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President of the General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft, US ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers and Felix Klein, Germany's special representative for relations with Jewish organizations.
The keynote speech was delivered by Beate Klarsfeld, the Nazi hunter who has devoted years to the study of the Holocaust and to prosecuting Nazi war criminals.Also as part of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day event, Holocaust memorial project "Unto Every Person There is a Name" creator, Chaim Roth, testified to his experience as a survivor.
"Seventy years after the Holocaust, it is regrettable to see the world has still not learned the lesson," Roth said. "Cases of genocide continue to happen all over the world, and innocent children continue to be killed and suffer. We must do everything to prevent a recurrence of this phenomenon."