JERUSALEM, May 5 (UPI) -- Israel on Thursday is commemorating the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazi regime in World War II during the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The event was initiated by a torch-lighting ceremony Wednesday evening at Jerusalem's Yad Vashem, the world Holocaust remembrance center. During the ceremony, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned against recent rising anti-Semitism in Europe, which he said was reminiscent of propaganda that "greased the wheels of the Nazi murder machine."
"Today millions of people in the Muslim world read and hear horrible falsehoods about the Jewish people. They tell them that the Jews are the descendants of monkeys and pigs. They say that Jews drink the blood of their enemies in goblets," Netanyahu said during the address.
Netanyahu criticized radical Islam, also alleging the West has fanned the flame of violent Islamist fundamentalism.
"British MPs, senior officials in Sweden, public opinion makers in France; I must say that anti-Semitism in our days is creating odd combinations -- the elites who allegedly represent human progress joining up with the worst barbarians on Earth, those who chop off heads, persecute women, oppress gays, destroy cultural treasures," Netanyahu said.
About 189,000 Holocaust survivors live in Israel -- about 23 percent of whom live under the poverty line. Thursday's events began at 10 a.m. with two minutes of silence, marked by a siren heard nationwide causing Israel to come to a standstill.
Other scheduled events on Thursday include the reading of names of Holocaust victims in the Knesset, Israel's unicameral Parliament. In Poland, about 10,000 people are expected to participate in the March of the Living -- where people will walk nearly two miles at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp.