NEW YORK – “An independent, strong, thriving and peaceful State of Israel is the vengeance of the dead,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said at a ceremony for the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust in the UN’s General Assembly hall on Thursday.

“On this day, when we remember the six million victims, let us also remember two lessons: first, ‘the Holocaust – never again.’ And second – an independent, strong, thriving and peaceful State of Israel is the vengeance of the dead,” he said in Hebrew. “It is also the comfort for those remaining alive. Thus we have the uppermost responsibility to protect and defend it for the future generations.”

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Barak spoke of the defiance of the Warsaw Ghetto, noting that “there is a direct line that stretches from their heroics to the establishment of the State of Israel.”

He recounted having met Roni Zuckerman, who in 2001 became the Israel Air Forces’s first female jet fighter pilot, and came from Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot, established by survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto, including Zuckerman’s grandfather Icchak Cukierman, also known as Yitzhak Zuckerman and better known as “Antek,” one of the leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943.

“Here in a nutshell is the story of Israel from the Holocaust to rebirth,” Barak said. “Like the Phoenix, out of the ashes.”

Barak’s remarks were part of the UN’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Day. It is usually held on January 27, but was rescheduled this year due to a blizzard in the New York area.

Also speaking in the program, which honored the courage of women in the Holocaust, were Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon and Rosemary DiCarlo, the US deputy permanent representative to the UN.

“Let us renew our collective determination to heed the lessons of the Holocaust,” Ban said. “The UN is fully committed to this cause.”

The United States and the UN are “pledged to stand against the cruelty that led to the Shoah,” DiCarlo said.

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