Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a ceremony marking 70 years since the victory over the Nazis, May 7, 2015.
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a conciliatory message to the world Thursday night, saying his new government would examine all the ways of leveraging the shifting alliances in the Middle East to possibly move the peace process forward.
Netanyahu, speaking at a ceremony at the Armored Corps Memorial in Latrun marking 70 years since the Allied victory over the Nazis, said that there are many security, diplomatic, and economic challenges facing the new government that he is to present next week.
“The biggest challenge is Iran’s attempts to arm itself with nuclear weapons, and in parallel to open fronts of terrorism and occupation throughout the Middle East around our borders,” he said.
Netanyahu asserted that Israel can meet those challenges, and that Israel knows that it is not the only country in the region threatened by Iran.
“This creates joint interests and also perhaps creates opportunities to develop alliances and possibly move peace forward,” he said.
“We will examine all these options, as well as the other challenges we are obligated to face.”
The ceremony took place at a museum under development honoring Jewish war veterans located at the memorial.
Some 1.5 million Jews fought in Allied armies and in the Resistance against the Nazis in World War II, and some 250,000 Jewish soldiers were killed. Hundreds of veterans took part in the ceremony.
Netanyahu pointed out that the commander of the Soviet battalion that liberated Auschwitz was a Jew – Anatoly Shapiro.
“The first sentence he said to the prisoners was ‘The Red Army has come to free you,” Netanyahu said.
The prime minister said that alongside the helplessness of the six million Jews killed who had no one to defend them, 1.5 million other Jews fought the Nazis. He pointed out that many of the veterans immigrated to Israel after the war and took part in Israel’s wars as part of the IDF, and that they had no small part in building the IDF.
“There is no precedent of a people establishing a state three years after a third of its nation was destroyed,” he said.
Netanyahu said that the lessons learned from the days of the Holocaust are still relevant today. The first lesson, he said, “was that we must be capable, prepared and able to defend ourselves by ourselves against any threat. That is the lesson of 70 years since the victory over Nazism.”
President Reuven Rivlin, who along with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot also addressed the gathering, said the veterans left a tremendous legacy for their children and grandchildren.
“We look to the past, and beyond you we see the faces of the Maccabees,” he said. “We look to the future and we see the faces of the soldiers and commanders of the Israel Defense Forces. You are all links in the intricate chain of Jewish heroes, whose roots are in the pages of the Bible, and whose responsibility today, is to the defense of the people and Land of Israel.”