PM: 'If we don't defend ourselves, world won't stand by us'

Netanyahu speaks at official Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem, says "threats against us can't be swept aside"; Peres: "The Holocaust proved that we have no alternative other than a homeland."

May 1, 2011 20:53
4 minute read.
PM Netanyahu speaks at Yad Vashem ceremony

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at Yad Vashem 311. (photo credit: Channel 10)


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The six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust were remembered on Sunday in ceremonies held across the nation at sundown, the eve of Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day.

Israeli leaders and dignitaries including President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President of the Supreme Court Dorit Beinisch gathered at Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem to take part in the official state ceremony.

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In his speech, Netanyahu asked the nation to walk away with three important lessons from the Holocaust.

The first lesson, he said, is "If someone threatens to destroy us, we should not ignore it or diminish it."

He asked, "Has the world understood this? I doubt it. We cannot just think that the threats of Holocaust are over. We have new threatening forces today. They call for our destruction."

"Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas - they call for the destruction of the Jewish people," the prime minister said. "All of those who said they have learned the lessons of the Holocaust, they need to condemn, in a clear way, those who call for the destruction of the Jewish state. The world has not done this. These threats against us, we cannot sweep them aside."

Netanyahu said the second lesson was "the duty to reveal the face of hatred against our nation."

Such hatred, he said, grew, conquered, and impacted opinion makers and leaders in Europe before the Holocaust.

"Now this hatred is emerging again in Europe against the Jewish state," Netanyahu emphasized.

Netanyahu concluded his speech with a last lesson: "We can't leave our fate in the hands of others."

He said, "If we don't defend ourselves, the world won't stand by our side. It is appropriate to declare here, today, and now to all of our enemies that they should know one thing: When the people of Israel and the army of Israel say to the world 'never again', we mean every word."

President Shimon Peres also gave a speech, stressing the importance of self-reliance and the historic role of the Jewish State to ensure the future of the Jewish people.

“We were alone, without our own country,” he said. “The Allied bombers flew past Auschwitz and didn’t drop a single bomb on the murderous complex. The Holocaust proved that we have no alternative other than a homeland.”

The president then expressed concern over the rogue nuclear program in Iran, whose president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened to wipe Israel off the map.

“Even after the Holocaust, a regime still exists whose leaders publicly deny the Holocaust,” Peres said, referring to the Islamic Republic. “This should make every person sick and shake their conscience. The fanatical leadership of Iran is a danger to the entire world, not just Israel, but to every household; a real danger to the future of the humankind. The nations of the world will not accept Iran having nuclear arms. They now are being tested.

Holocaust survivor Michael Goldman spoke on behalf of over 200,000 other survivors who lived through the Nazi campaign of terror and now reside in Israel.

“We never stopped believing in returning to Zion,” he said. “In the hells of Auschwitz at night I quietly sang the song of Avigdor Hameiri: ‘On the top of Mount Scopus, shalom to thee Jerusalem.’ I never stopped believing our enemies will succumb.”

Earlier, at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Netanyahu referred to the significance of the day saying that the world has not yet learned the lesson of the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jews. 

“The important question that must be asked today is: Have we learned the lessons of the Holocaust in the world?,” he asked. “And to our great regret, the answer is no.  A renewed anti-Semitism is spreading.  Various forces are joining together and flooding the world with anti-Semitism.  The hatred of Jews and the denial of their existence have turned into hatred of the Jewish State and denial of its existence.”

While the United Nations a decade ago designated January 24 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel has been holding its Holocaust memorial day on 27 of Nisan, the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising according to the Jewish calendar, for six decades.

Holocaust memorial events will continue Monday when sirens will blare at 10 a.m. and the nation will observe a two-minute silence. The day will end Monday sundown with a closing ceremony held at kibbutz Yad Mordechai.

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