Israeli President Reuven Rivlin attends the annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day event for the diplomatic corps at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARK NEYMAN/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin is not a lone voice in the wilderness when he insists the creation of the State of Israel was not compensation for the Holocaust.
He is supported in this belief by Prof. Dina Porat, the chief historian at Yad Vashem.
Rivlin was speaking on Thursday to foreign diplomats who braved the inclement weather to attend the annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day event for the diplomatic corps at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
Rivlin noted that his own family came to the Land of Israel well over a century before the Holocaust and said other Jewish families were already living here long before the arrival of his own ancestors. “The State of Israel is not a colonial project, and not compensation for the Holocaust,” he declared. “The State of Israel came into being from the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in its own homeland.”
Porat, in a video presentation, explained how Holocaust denial can be manipulated to delegitimize Israel’s existence. She said former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust ever happened as a pretext for saying if there was no Holocaust there was no legitimacy for the State of Israel.
Then, endorsing Rivlin’s contention, Porat stated: “The State of Israel did not come out of the Holocaust. Ahmadinejad ignores the fact that the State of Israel came out of Zionism that was there 70 years before the Holocaust.”
The video included an address by American Holocaust researcher Prof. Alvin Rosenfeld. Rosenfeld, who said he had been a good friend of Elie Wiesel, who admitted to being mistaken in predicting he would not see antisemitism again after the Holocaust. “Virtually everyone was wrong,” said Rosenfeld. “I never expected to become a scholar of post-Holocaust antisemitism. It’s real and it’s urgent.”
Dr. Na’ama Shik, the director of the e-learning department at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies, also spoke.
Rivlin in his address referred to current antisemitism, racism and neo-Nazism. “In this environment, Jews feel threatened in the countries in which they live and some feel the need to hide their identities,” he said.
After the Holocaust, he recalled, there was a commitment to “Never again,” and only a few years ago did the United Nations take the important decision of designating International Holocaust Remembrance Day on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
But remembrance is not enough, Rivlin underscored. “We must fight this new antisemitism.”
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