Turkey holds first state rite marking Holocaust Day


(JTA) — Turkey held its first state ceremony in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

The ceremony reportedly was held Thursday, on International Holocaust Day, at the Neve Salom synagogue in Istanbul. Officials from Turkey’s Foreign Ministry and members of the local Jewish community attended the ceremony, according to reports.

As it does every year since the day was instituted, the Turkish government issued a statement to mark the day.

Thursday’s statement said that Turkey would continue to remember the Holocaust and to draw lessons from it to combat racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism, according to the English-language Hurriyet Daily News. 

“We emphasize that the Holocaust cannot be consigned to the past and forgotten and, by drawing lessons for the human race from one of the gravest crimes against humanity in history, we remember the importance of working together to create a better future and a peaceful world," read the statement.

"On this occasion, we also respectfully remember our diplomats who did not hesitate to risk their lives to protect and save people targeted by the Nazi regime during World War II and who thereby make us proud of our history."

Turkey and Israel have had an uneasy relationship in recent years, culminating in the May 31, 2010 flotilla incident in which a Turkish-flagged ship attempting to break Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza was intercepted and boarded by Israeli soldiers, leading to the deaths of nine Turkish activists.

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