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Prime Minister Ehud Olmert didn't mention Iran even once Tuesday during a poignant address at the Grunwald Train Station in Berlin, where some 50,000 Jews were deported more than half-a-century ago to concentration camps and ghettoes in the east.
But he didn't have to.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presence loomed large at the ceremony, even without reference to him or his calls to destroy Israel or his Holocaust denial conference or his menacing march toward nuclear weapons.
Olmert didn't mention Ahmadinejad even once, but it was clear that he was on his mind when the prime minister said that the Jewish people had "learned and memorized" the lessons of the Holocaust: "the weak and defenseless are doomed."
"Doomed are those who do not believe those who threaten to eradicate them." said Olmert, as if he were speaking directly to the Iranian president, as if Ahamdinejad was standing just on the other side of the railroad tracks upon which Jews were sent to their deaths.
"Doomed, said Olmert, "are those who remain complacent and do not prepare themselves to thwart the danger. Doomed are those who entertain the false illusion that they could escape harm and that they could rely on the mercy of strangers." The echo of the Holocaust, its lessons, are "always with us," Olmert said. "The memory train follows every Jew, everywhere, all the time. I, who was born in my homeland after the Holocaust, know full well why- here and now- I remember my home, Israel. I know full well why my home is so dear and precious to me."
There was something chilling about Olmert's words, delivered on a bitter-cold Berlin morning on a train platform lined with dozens of individual plaques commemorating the dates of various transports to the east. Unlike in years past, where lessons-to-be-learned-from-the-Holocaust speeches at memorial ceremonies such as these had a certain perfunctory ring to them, this time things are different.
Olmert was ostensibly speaking of an evil that occurred more than 60 years ago, but in the current context of Iran and its threats it is clear that he was not speaking only of the then and there, but also referring to the hear and now.
With Ahmadinejad lurking around the corner, speeches about the need to internalize the lessons of the Holocaust - especially when uttered by an Israeli leader on German soil - suddenly become real and horribly immediate.
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