Netanyahu speaks during Holocaust Remembrance Day memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem,.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The world’s view of Iran is likely to change with US President Donald Trump in the White House, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated on Thursday during a speech at Yad Vashem to the diplomatic corps.
The prime minister’s address marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day (which is commemorated around the world on January 27), said that even as antisemitism is on the rise in Europe, the greatest hatred of the Jewish people and the Jewish state comes from the East.
“It comes from Iran,” he said. “It comes from the ayatollah regime that is fanning these flames and calling outright for the destruction of the Jewish state.”
This is the second time in a week that Netanyahu has made a public comment regarding the Iranian threat, after an extended period when this was not at the center of his remarks.
On Saturday night, just a day after Trump’s inauguration – and in what appeared to be an effort to put the issue back on the international agenda just as Trump took office – Netanyahu posted a video on social media saying he plans to speak with the new president “about how to counter the threat of the Iranian regime, which calls for Israel’s destruction.”
He picked up on this theme at Yad Vashem.
“I want you to think about a regime that openly declared its intention to eliminate every black person, every gay person, every European. I think the entire world would be outraged, and rightly so,” he said.
“But when a regime [Tehran] merely calls to wipe out every Israeli – which is what they say day in, day out, their most prominent leaders, they say it – what do we encounter? A deafening silence.”
Now, he said, this may change.
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“I hope it will change. I believe it will change,” he said.
“Because I spoke a few days ago to President Trump and he spoke about the Iranian aggression.
He spoke about Iran’s commitment to destroy Israel.
He spoke about the nature of this nuclear agreement and the danger it poses.
The prime minister and former president Barack Obama were at loggerheads for years over the Iranian issue.
Netanyahu said that he will not be silent in the face of those saying they want to destroy the Jewish people or Jewish state.
“I haven’t been silent, and we don’t intend to be inactive either,” he said. “We don’t merely intend to speak out but we will take all the measures we need to defend ourselves, and we will take all the measures necessary to prevent Iran from getting the means of mass murder to carry out their horrible plans.”
Netanyahu noted that “the regime that spawned the Holocaust ended up in the dustbin of history,” saying that this is a lesson for Iran and all enemies of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.
Meanwhile, the United Nations will hold a ceremony in the General Assembly on Friday to mark the day. The event will include speeches by the Secretary- General Antonio Guterres, General Assembly President Peter Thomson; Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon; and Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN Michele Sison.
The keynote speech will be delivered by Auschwitz survivor and Israeli journalist Noah Klieger, 90, who has dedicated his life to educating the next generations about the horrors of the Holocaust.
“The UN must take a leading role in combating antisemitism and preserving the memory of the Holocaust,” Danon said.
“The members of the UN must all pledge to speak out against hate and never allow the parliament of nations to become a platform for the promotion of intolerance.”
Last week, Guterres spoke at an annual Saturday morning service in memory of the victims of the Holocaust at Manhattan’s Park East Synagogue and told worshipers he would be on the front lines of denouncing antisemitism and condemning all forms of expressions of it. He pledged to work so “the Holocaust will never be forgotten.
“Antisemitism is not a question about religion, but a manifestation of racism,” the secretary-general stated, adding that he is troubled by the “new forms and expressions” of hatred against Jews, which shows that “antisemitism is alive and well.”