KIEV – The State of Israel is prepared to “defend the Jewish people wherever they are, without compromises,” Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel declared during a speech in Kiev on Monday.

Speaking at a memorial ceremony organized by the Jewish Agency at the site of the Babi Yar massacre in Kiev, Ariel compared the Islamic Republic of Iran to Nazi Germany.

Over 30,000 Jews were killed in the Babi Yar ravine in the Ukrainian capital between September 29 and 30, 1941.

“Many of the Jews of Europe and the leadership of the Jewish communities didn’t want to recognize the Holocaust as it was happening,” he said. “They completely didn’t recognize it and the results are known.”

“Today, too, there is a state in the world that declares publicly that they want to destroy the Jewish people sitting in Zion,” Ariel told the assembled representatives of world Jewry, including delegates and leaders of the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Keren Kayemeth Le-Israel-Jewish National Fund.

Ariel said that he and Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver, who was also in attendance, had come to Babi Yar to declare that there would “never again” be another mass murder of Jews.

Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky noted “how quickly” the murder of Europe’s Jews occurred.

“How quickly the world changed,” he said, can be seen in films of different Jewish communities from across Europe from around 1933.

Such films, he says, show Jewish citizens “participating in the life of their countries and welcomed as a very integral part of this life in different countries of Europe.”

“It [went] so quickly, six [or] seven years and the world changed,” he said, noting that in the interim, leaders such as Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels explained “to their people that Jews are less than human.”

Sharansky lamented the fact that the world “accepted it that Jews are less than human, and that a world without Jews can survive and maybe even be a better place.”

The Jewish people must now “take seriously” anyone who says that “it is better to have the world without Israel.” It’s not some “crazy idea,” he said. “We know that it can be accepted very quickly.”

However, he continued, such a tragedy cannot recur, as “we have the State of Israel.” Despite the Yiddish text carved into the the official Soviet-era memorial at the site, no specific mention is made of the Jewish identity of the victims.

In his comments, Sharansky noted that the first time he was arrested was when visiting Babi Yar to commemorate the massacre.

Even after the communist authorities relented and allowed a memorial at the site, he said, “there was no mention of the word ‘Jew.’” “It was the Red Army, it was the Soviet citizens, it was the partisans who were killed; among them happened to be Jews.”

During a speech to members of the Jewish Agency’s board of governors on Sunday evening, Alexander Levin, the president of the World Forum for Russian Jewry, announced that a new memorial complex is slated to be built at the site.

Levin said that the planned complex will incorporate a community center and that “in the place where Jews were murdered, they will learn Torah.”

“It’s not just a tragedy for the Jewish people, it’s a tragedy for the entire world, and the memorial site will commemorate not only the killings of Jewish people, but also all other victims who were brutally murdered by the Nazis on Ukrainian territory,” he said.

Construction is slated to begin within months and should take around two-and-a-half years to complete.

The work is “mostly” being paid for by Levin and Ukrainian Jewish oligarch Vadim Rabinovich, the owner of the JN1 news station, the World Forum of Russian-speaking Jews announced on Monday. •

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