Prime Minister Benjamin netanyahu speaks at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
For the first time in years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address at Yad Vashem to start Holocaust Remembrance Day did not focus on Iran and its nuclear program.
Rather, the core message of his speech Wednesday evening was the danger of the spread of anti-Semitic lies that is making odd bedfellows of the radical Left and Muslim extremists.
While in the last couple of years the theme of the premier’s annual address has been either the need to keep Iran from getting nuclear arms or the necessity of speaking out against that possibility, this time the thrust was warning about the spread of anti-Semitic lies.
“What paved the way for the Holocaust, what greased the wheels of the Nazi murder machine?” he asked. “The answer is the lie. Nazi propaganda described the Jews as the source of all evil in the world: the poisoners of wells, parasites, enemies of humanity. Incitement preceded annihilation.”
Netanyahu did mention Iran in his address, but only briefly, and only toward the end.
“There are those who want to ignore the intentions of Iran that are inscribed on its missiles with the words ‘Destroy Israel,’ and which holds a cartoon Holocaust denial contest,” he said. “We don’t ignore it.”
He added that while some may we willing to come to terms with nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran, Israel will never do so. “All those conspiring to destroy us should know one thing,” he said. “Israel has great strength – offensive strength, defensive strength, deterrent strength.”
The vilification of the Jewish state has taken the place of vilification of the Jew, Netanyahu said, adding that anti-Semitism did not die with Hitler in his Berlin bunker.
“Today millions of people in the Muslim world read and hear horrible falsehoods about the Jewish people. They tell them that the Jews are the descendants of monkeys and pigs. They say that Jews drink the blood of their enemies in goblets,” he said, adding that this hatred is spread on social media in a manner which Hitler and his propaganda chief Goebbels could never have imagined.
While the source of this incitement is radical Islam in the Arab world, of late it has been joined by no less pernicious incitement from the West, Netanyahu charged.
“British MPs, senior officials in Sweden, public opinion makers in France; I must say that anti-Semitism in our days is creating odd combinations – the elites who allegedly represent human progress joining up with the worst barbarians on Earth, those who chop off heads, persecute women, oppress gays, destroy cultural treasures,” Netanyahu said.
Lies about Israel, he said, have no boundaries, and he mentioned the UNESCO resolution last month that expunged any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount as an example.
“Pay attention to what is going on here,” he said. “An international organization charged with preserving history rewrites one of the basic facts of human history. This is willful ignorance. Worse than that, is the addiction to lies and its dissemination to the world until it is accepted as fact.”
Netanyahu said that the hatred of the Jews will not easily be eradicated from the world, and three things must be done: fight the lies, fortify Israel’s strength, and build the country.
“We must mobilize to spread the truth with the same passion our enemies are mobilizing to spread lies,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu said that even if Jew hatred cannot be uprooted, Israel can push back against its enemies.
“For generations we were like a driven leaf in the wind, without strength, without defense,” he said. “But no more.”