Full Text Israel Political Brief April 27, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting on Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of the Weekly Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 4-27-14 
יום ראשון כ”ז ניסן תשע”ד

“This evening we will mark Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day. The State of Israel will honor the memory of the six million victims of the Holocaust. The main difference between the helplessness of the Jews during the Holocaust and the situation of the Jews today is that today we have a strong, sovereign state with a strong military that can defend us against those who seek our lives.

Iran tops the list of those who seek our lives; it has declared its intention to destroy us. In addition to its effort to arm itself with nuclear weapons, Iran arms, finances and trains Hamas and other terrorist organizations on our borders. Hamas denies the Holocaust even as it attempts to create an additional Holocaust by destroying the State of Israel. It is with this Hamas that Abu Mazen chose to form an alliance last week. Instead of issuing statements designed to placate global public opinion, Abu Mazen needs to choose between the alliance with Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel and denies the Holocaust, and a true peace with Israel. We hope that he will disavow this alliance with Hamas and return to the path of true peace.

Today, the Cabinet is due to approve Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s and Social Affairs and Social Services Minister Meir Cohen’s proposal for a national plan to assist Holocaust survivors. Also, a representative of the Senior Citizens Affairs Ministry will present an initiative to assist Holocaust survivors in utilizing their full rights. We have a moral obligation to see to it that Holocaust survivors living among us can live out their lives honorably. We [also] have the supreme national responsibility of preventing another Holocaust; let us do both.”

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Israel Brief April 19, 2012: Israelis Take Two Minutes to Reflect on Holocaust Memorial Day

ISRAEL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Israelis Take Two Minutes to Reflect on Holocaust Memorial Day

Millions of Israelis – with some exceptions – took two minutes on Thursday to reflect on the Holocaust and its relevance to their lives

Millions of Israelis took two minutes on Thursday to reflect on the Holocaust and its relevance to their lives, as the nation stood at attention as sirens sounded in commemoration of Holocaust Memorial Day. In a uniquely Israeli custom, Israelis from all backgrounds experienced a moment of transcendent unity as they stood in reflection in offices and schools, on the roads, and in their homes. Individuals reflected in their own ways, with some considering their family histories and the fact that their families survived one of the darkest eras of Jewish history, while others said silent prayers for the souls of the murdered….READ MORE

Israel Brief April 18, 2012: Thousands of events and ceremonies will take place in Israel to Honor the Victims Mark Holocaust Memorial Day

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ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Events to Honor the Victims Mark Holocaust Memorial Day

Thousands of events and ceremonies will take place in Israel on Thursday, Holocaust Memorial Day.
Israeli youth at Auschwitz

Israeli youth at Auschwitz
Flash 90

Thousands of events and ceremonies will take place in Israel on Thursday, Holocaust Memorial Day. After a siren sounds at 10 AM – at which time Israelis stand at attention, reflecting on the tragedy of the destruction of European Jewry in the Holocaust – events will be held in schools, synagogues, IDF bases, at Yad Vashem, and many other venues.

The main ceremony at Yad Vashem will take place at 1 PM, while Knesset members will take turns reading out the names of the victims. Youth groups will gather at Yad Vashem for a special ceremony later in the afternoon, and the day will be capped by memorial ceremonies at Yad Mordechai, named for the Warsaw Ghetto hero, and Kibbutz Lochamei Hageta’ot [kibbutz named for Ghetto fighters, ed.],Thursday evening.

In Europe, meanwhile, some 18,000 Jewish youths and adults will participate in the March of the Living, a trek which brings participants from the death camps of Poland and Germany, to Israel, where they will arrive in time for Independence Day next week. Leading the March, among others, are Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Tel Aviv’s Chief Rabbi, and Israel Police Commander Yochanan Danino. Among a delegation of police attending the March are a number of officers whose parents are survivors.

Among the student groups attending is one from Turkey. The delegation consists of two members 17 and 18 years old respectively. They asked that their names not be published, given the tense situation in their homeland, but they said that visiting the concentration camps was a very moving experience for them, despite the fact that their families, living in Turkey, did not experience the Holocaust firsthand as did the families of most participants in the March.

Jewish News Brief April 18, 2012: US Congres votes unanimously to award Roaoul Wallenberg the Congressional Gold Medal

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ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

House votes unanimously for Wallenberg medal

Source: JTA, 4-18-12

The U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously to award Raoul Wallenberg the Congressional Gold Medal.

The vote Tuesday, two days before Holocaust Remembrance Day, is part of an effort to confer the honor upon Wallenberg in time for the 100th anniversary of his birth in August.

“By sacrificing his personal safety, and ultimately his life, to protect the lives of a generation of Jews, Raoul Wallenberg exhibited the kind of noble courage that we prize in America,” said William Daroff, the director of the Washington office of the Jewish Federations of North America, which has led lobbying for the act that would confer the honor. “On behalf of the countless Jews saved through his mission, we are grateful for the House’s action today to permanently honor a global hero.”

Wallenberg, a neutral Swedish diplomat in Budapest during the German occupation in 1944, issued Swedish travel documents — known as “Wallenberg passports” — to at least 20,000 Jews and also set up more than 30 safe houses for Jews. Other neutral diplomats collaborated in the effort.

The details of Wallenberg’s fate have remained a mystery. He disappeared while being escorted out of Hungary toward the Soviet Union. The Soviets claimed that he died of a heart attack in 1957, but other evidence indicated that he was killed in Lubyanka prison or that he may have lived years longer….READ MORE

Remembering and Honoring Courage

Source: WH, 4-19-12

In his video message, President Obama speaks for all Americans who remember the courageous and selfless acts of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. In 2012, Sweden is celebrating the 100thanniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, a diplomat who chose not to be indifferent and to rise to a higher moral calling. We remember and revere this courageous man whose efforts saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust.  Wallenberg paid with his life for his commitment to basic values. And we all have the obligation to ponder the full measure of Wallenberg’s personal sacrifice and tragedy.

Born into wealth, for Wallenberg turning a blind eye to the hardship and suffering of others would have been easy. Instead, as First Secretary at the Swedish Legation in Budapest, Hungary during the darkest days of World War II, Wallenberg demonstrated a sense of self-sacrifice to the greater good of his fellow human beings that is a lesson for all of us.

Other diplomats chose to risk their careers and even their lives, and defied official protocols, rules and immigration “policies” to rescue Jews. Many of these diplomats were censured or punished for their acts of courage.  Some were fired or were stripped of their ranks and pensions. Their rescue efforts took many forms. Among other selfless acts, they issued visas, citizenship papers and other forms of documentation that allowed Jews to escape the Nazis.

Today at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, you will find not only Raoul Wallenberg’s tree planted along the Avenue of the Righteous, but also 2,000 other trees and 18,000 other names engraved in the walls of The Garden of the Righteous in remembrance of those who risked their lives to save European Jews from the Holocaust.

Why did they do it?  Because they all believed that: “One man can make a difference.” That is the sentence written over the front door of the Raoul Wallenberg School in Brooklyn, New York, one of many American institutions honoring Wallenberg. In 1981, the U.S. Congress made Wallenberg an honorary U.S. citizen, at that time just the second in our history.

“The importance of not being indifferent” is a timely and relevant operating principle in our relationship with the world today. Advancing human dignity and protecting universal rights is at the core of American values, and it is relevant to the challenges of our time.

As we consider Wallenberg’s personal sacrifice, we must remember Wallenberg’s tragic end: many historians believe he languished in lonely incarceration for months or even years before being murdered. Wallenberg epitomizes what self-sacrifice for the sake of others is all about.

Mark F. Brzezinski is the United States Ambassador to Sweden

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