In a much-anticipatedspeech at Auschwitz-Birkenau marking International HolocaustMemorial Day Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reassertedthe right of the Jewish people to self-defense amid increasingconcern over the Iranian threat and growing controversy abroad overthe legitimacy of Israel and its military.
“From the cursedground at Auschwitz, Birkenau and other camps rise the voices of ourbrothers and sisters, our people who choked to death and were burnedand murdered,” said the prime minister, in English, wishing “decency, truthand hope ... for all mankind” before switching to Hebrew, “thelanguage the Nazis sought to exterminate.”
“Remember whatAmalek did to you,” cautioned Netanyahu, quoting a particularlyominous passage from Deuteronomy. “I have come here today fromJerusalem to tell you: We will never forget. We will not allow theHolocaust deniers or those who desecrate [Jewish] graves and signs toerase or distort [our] memory.”
The prime ministeralso warned that though the “Nazi Amalek” was almost entirely aghost of the past, “a new Amalek is appearing and once againthreatening to annihilate the Jews. We will not allow it ... We willnever forget and always stand guard,” he said.
“Murderoushatred must be stopped in its tracks, stopped right from thebeginning. All countries in the world must learn this lesson, just aswe did after losing a third of our people in blood-soaked Europe. Welearned that the only guarantee for the protection of our people isthe State of Israel and its army, the IDF,” Netanyahu declared,warning that never again would the existence of Israel and the Jewishpeople be threatened.
Israel,he said, must stand at the forefront of all civilized nations andwarn them about impending danger – while also preparing to defenditself against all threats. “I promise, as head of the Jewishstate, that never again will we allow the hand of evil to sever thelife of our people and our state,” he solemnly added. Netanyahu chose not to specifically refer to the Iranian regime and its nuclear drive, but has drawn a link between the Nazis and the Iranian threat to the Jews in many recent speeches.
“AmYisrael Chai, we have returned to our homeland, to the land ofour forefathers, to Jerusalem, our capital. We have converged fromall corners of the world, Holocaust survivors, Arab Jews, Jews fromformer Soviet Union states, Ethiopian Jews,” Netanyahu said,choosing frosty Poland as the location for his rebuke to those whoclaim the Jewish population of Israel is comprised mostly ofemigrants from Europe.
“Webow our heads in memory [of Holocaust victims] and raise our heads asour flag waves with its two blue stripes and the Star of David at itscenter. We still haven't lost our hope.”