Full Text Israel Political Brief April 15, 2015: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Yom HaShoah Holocaust Remembrance Day Address at Yad Vashem — Transcript

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Holocaust Remembrance Day Address by PM Netanyahu at Yad Vashem

Source: PMO, 4-15-15

Photo: Haim Zah, GPO 

[Translation]

Seventy years ago, the bells of freedom rang out across the free world. The horrific nightmare that had engulfed all humanity in blood had come to an end in Europe. But the day the Nazis were vanquished was not only a day of relief and jubilation. It was also a day of great sorrow for our nation, and a day of reflection for the world’s leaders. Leaders of modern countries realized that it was a propitious time to establish a new world order based on defending liberty, eradicating evil and opposing oppression. They articulated the most important lesson of World War II: democracies must not turn a blind eye to the aspirations of tyrannous regimes to expand. A conciliatory attitude toward these regimes only increases their propensity for aggression. And if such aggression is not stopped in time, humanity might find itself in a much bloodier battle.

In the years before World War II, the free world tried to appease the Nazi regime, to gain its trust, to curry its favor through gestures. There were those who warned that this concessionary policy would only whet Hitler’s appetite, but these warnings were ignored due to the natural human desire for calm at all costs. And indeed, the price was exacted not long after, and it was too heavy to bear – six million of our people were slaughtered in the Holocaust, and millions of others were killed in this terrible inferno.

When the war ended, the conclusion was clear: there is no room for weakness when facing tyrannous regimes that send their murderous tentacles in every direction. Only by standing firm and adhering to the values of liberty and tolerance can we ensure the future of humankind.
There are many around the world who claim that the lessons learned then are still valid today. They affirm: “Never again!” They declare: “We will not turn a blind eye to the expansionist intentions of a violent tyranny.” They promise: “We will oppose evil as soon as it begins.” But as long as these announcements are not backed by practical actions – they are meaningless. Did the world really learn a lesson from the inconceivable universal and Jewish tragedy of last century? I wish I could stand here and tell you that the answer to this was yes.

Today, ever more threats challenge human civilization. Radical Islamist forces are flooding the Middle East, destroying remnants of the past, torturing the helpless, murdering innocents. They hope to establish caliphates, more than one, like in the Middle Ages. At the same time, the extremist regime in Iran is oppressing its people; it is rushing forward and submerging the Middle East in blood and suffering – in Yemen, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Iraq, in Gaza and across the border of the Golan Heights.

Just as the Nazis aspired to crush civilization and to establish a “master race” to replace it and control the world while annihilating the Jewish people, so too does Iran strive to gain control over the region, from which it would spread further, with the explicit intent of obliterating the Jewish state. Iran is advancing in two tracks: the first is in developing the ability to arm itself with nuclear weapons and stockpile ballistic missiles; and the second – exporting the Khomeinist revolution to many countries by widely using terrorism and taking over large parts of the Middle East. Everything is out in the open – it is all taking place in broad daylight, in front of the cameras. And yet, the blindness is immense.

“For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the peoples,” said the Prophet Isaiah. The determination and lessons that were acquired through blood seventy years ago are now dissipating, and the darkness and fog of denying reality are taking their place. The bad deal that is being made with Iran demonstrates that the historic lesson has not been internalized. The West is yielding in the face of Iran’s aggressive actions. Instead of demanding a significant dismantling of the nuclear program in Iran – a country that clearly states its plans to exterminate six million Jews here and elsewhere, to eradicate many countries and many regimes – the superpowers back down. They are leaving Iran with its nuclear capabilities intact, and even allowing it to expand them later on, regardless of Iran’s actions in the Middle East and around the world.

As the civilized world is lulled into slumber on a bed of illusions, the rulers of Iran continue to encourage subversion and terrorism and disseminate destruction and death. The superpowers turn a deaf ear to the crowds in Iran shouting: “Death to America; Death to Israel.” They turn a blind eye to the executions of those who oppose the regime and of members of minority populations. And they hold their peace in the face of the massive arming of terrorist organizations. At most, they make a halfhearted statement for the record.

I have heard that in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day a competition with prizes is soon to take place in Tehran with participants from 56 countries. It is a Holocaust denial cartoon competition. Will we hear protests? At best, a minor condemnation might be heard; that will minimally fulfill their obligation.

Distinguished guests, Israeli citizens and representatives of other countries,
The bubble of this illusion is going to burst. Democratic governments made a critical mistake before World War II, and we are convinced – and I must say that many of our neighbors are too – that they are making a grave mistake now too. It is possible that this partnership with many of our neighbors, the partnership in identifying threats, will be the foundation for the partnership to forge a better, safer and more peaceful future in our region. Meanwhile, we will not flinch. We will continue to insist on the truth, and we will do everything we can to open the eyes that are shut.

I do not want to mislead anyone. We have tests ahead of us. We are in the midst of a great battle against the enervation, the weakness, the denial of reality – we will stand with our full force.

While there are those who refuse to understand our position, there are many others who identify with us. But even if we are compelled to stand alone, we will not be afraid. In any scenario, in any situation, we will safeguard our right, we will maintain our ability, we will keep our resolve to defend ourselves.

Seventy years ago we were war refugees, powerless and voiceless. Today we express what we have to say, and we are determined to safeguard our existence and our future. It is our duty to fight those who wish to destroy us, not to bow down to them or to downplay reality. We will not allow the State of Israel to be a passing episode in the history of our people.

Distinguished guests,
Today in my office I met an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor, Abraham Niederhoffer. Abraham was born in Romania. When he was 12 years old he witnessed the brutal murder of his relatives by a Romanian soldier. He was taken on a cattle train to Ukraine, where he survived the Holocaust. Due to the persistent refusal of the communist authorities in Romania to permit his emigration, he only came to Israel in 1969. Here he worked as an engineer and supervisor, contributing to the building of the country. He told me his story with great emotion, so much so that he had to pause several times. At the end of the meeting, he beseeched me, “Prime Minister,” he said, “it is your duty to prevent another Holocaust.” And I responded: “That is exactly how I see my responsibility. That is exactly how I see my responsibility.”

Seven decades ago, the survivors emerged from the camps, from the forests, from the March of Death, battered and bruised with nothing but the tattered clothes on their backs. Upon their release, the prisoners of the camps from all nations were asked by the Allied soldiers where each one wished to go. The Poles returned to Poland; the Russians returned to Russia; the Hungarians – to Hungary; the Ukrainians – to Ukraine. But a great many of them had nowhere to return to. They stood hopeless, because they did not have their own country.

Today, we have our own country – a flourishing and modern country; a country that rests on the heritage of our forefathers and stands at the vanguard of global knowledge; a country that disseminates a great light; a country that has taken charge of its destiny. Seventy years after the valleys of death, we revere the living, the vibrant, the creative, the flourishing.

Israel breaks ground on every front of modernization – in science, medicine, technology, agriculture, education and culture. And we do this not only for our people. We do this for the benefit of all humanity. This is what our existence is based upon – on our commitment to the safety and future of Israel, on the deference to our heritage, and on the unity of a nation in which a vast life force shines. The nation of Israel, which has arisen from the hellfire, is ready for any challenge.

“Shake thyself from the dust; put on thy beautiful garments, my people.” The eternal nation has shaken itself from the dust, returned home, stood tall, established an outstanding country and an outstanding army, the Israel Defense Force, in which our brave and courageous sons and daughters serve.

We will remember those who were murdered, we will guarantee life.

דברי ראש הממשלה נתניהו בטקס יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה ביד ושם

 

15/04/2015

יום רביעי כ”ו ניסן תשע”ה

– הטקסט עבר התאמת עריכה –

מכובדי נשיא מדינת ישראל ראובן ריבלין ורעייתו נחמה,
נשיאת ביהמ”ש העליון מרים נאור ובעלה פרופ’ אריה נאור,
יו”ר הכנסת יולי אדלשטיין,
הרבנים הראשיים,
שרים,
חברי כנסת,
אבנר שלו, יו”ר יד ושם,
מכובדיי הרבים מן הארץ ומן העולם,
ניצולי השואה היקרים לנו, חסידי אומות העולם שנותנים מופת לאנושות כולה,
אזרחי ישראל,

לפני שבעים שנה צלצלו פעמוני החירות ברחבי העולם החופשי. סיוט האימים שהשקיע את האנושות כולה במצולות של דם – בא לקצו באירופה. אך יום הניצחון על הנאצים לא היה רק יום של הקלה ושמחה. הוא היה יום מהול בעצב נורא לעמנו, אבל הוא גם יום של חשבון נפש למנהיגי העמים. מנהיגי המדינות הנאורות הבינו שזוהי שעת כושר לכונן סדר עולמי חדש שמתבסס על הגנת החופש, מיגור הרשע והתנגדות לעריצות. הם ביטאו בקול רם וצלול את הלקח העיקרי של מלחמת העולם השנייה: לדמוקרטיות אסור להעלים עין מכוונות ההתפשטות של משטרי הרודנות. פייסנות כלפי משטרים אלה רק מגבירה את נטייתם לתוקפנות. ואם תוקפנות זו לא תיבלם בזמן, עלולה האנושות להיקלע למלחמות קשות הרבה יותר.

בשנים שקדמו למלחמת העולם השנייה, העולם החופשי ניסה לפייס את המשטר הנאצי, לרכוש את אמונו בוויתורים, לקנות את רצונו הטוב במחוות. היו אמנם מי שהזהירו שמדיניות פשרנית זו רק תגביר את תיאבונו של היטלר. אך האזהרות האלו נדחו הצדה מכוח הטבע האנושי הטבעי, לקנות שקט בכל מחיר. ואכן המחיר לא איחר לבוא – והוא היה כבד מנשוא. שישה מיליון בני עמנו שנטבחו בשואה, ועשרות מיליוני בני-אדם נוספים שנהרגו בתופת הנוראה.

בגמר המלחמה, המסקנה הייתה חותכת: אין מקום לרפיון מול משטרי עריצות ששולחים את זרועותיהם הרצחניות לכל עבר. רק עמידה איתנה מולם, תוך שמירה על ערכי החירות והסובלנות – רק עמידה כזו תבטיח את עתיד האנושות.

רבים בעולם מצהירים שהלקחים שהופקו אז, תקפים גם היום. הם מכריזים: “לעולם לא עוד”. הם מצהירים: “לא נעלים עין משאיפות ההתפשטות של רודנות אלימה”. הם מבטיחים: “נתנגד לדברים הרעים בתחילתם”. אבל כל עוד למלים הללו אין ביטוי בפועל – הן חסרות משמעות. ובכן, האם העולם באמת למד מהטרגדיה הבלתי נתפסת, האוניברסלית והיהודית, של המאה הקודמת? הלוואי שהייתי יכול לעמוד כאן ולומר לכם שהתשובה לכך חיובית.

בימים אלה הולכים ומתרבים האיומים על התרבות האנושית. כוחות האסלאם הקיצוני שוטפים את המזרח התיכון, משמידים את שרידי העבר, מתעללים בחסרי ישע, טובחים בחפים מפשע, ומבקשים להקים ח’ליפות, אפילו יותר מאחת, בסגנון ימי הביניים. במקביל, המשטר הקנאי באיראן מדכא את עמו, שועט קדימה ומטביע בדם וסבל את המזרח התיכון: בתימן, בסוריה, בלבנון, בעיראק, בעזה ומול גולן.

כשם שהנאצים שאפו לרמוס את הציוויליזציה ולהשליט במקומה את “הגזע העליון” עלי אדמות, תוך השמדתו של העם היהודי – כך חותרת איראן להשתלט על האזור וממנו להתפשט הלאה, תוך כוונה מוצהרת להשמיד את מדינת היהודים. איראן מתקדמת בשני נתיבים: הראשון – פיתוח יכולת להתחמש בנשק גרעיני ובניית מאגר של טילים בליסטיים. השני – ייצוא של המהפכה החומייניסטית לארצות רבות, תוך שימוש מסיבי בטרור ובכיבוש של שטחים נרחבים במזרח התיכון. הכל גלוי לעין. הכל מתרחש לאור יום ולעיני המצלמות. ובכל זאת העיוורון גדול.

“כי הנה החושך יכסה ארץ, וערפל לאומים”, אומר הנביא ישעיהו. הנחישות והלקחים שנקנו בדמים רבים לפני שבעים שנה, כל אלה מתפוגגים היום. את מקומם תופסים החושך והערפל של הכחשת המציאות. ההסכם הרע שמתגבש עם איראן מלמד שהלקח ההיסטורי לא הופנם. מול פעולותיה האגרסיביות של איראן – המערב מוותר. במקום לדרוש פירוק משמעותי של יכולת הגרעין של איראן, מדינה שאומרת בפירוש שהיא הולכת להשמיד שישה מיליון יהודים כאן, ולא רק כאן, להשמיד הרבה מדינות והרבה משטרים – במקום לדרוש זאת ובמקום להתנות את הסרת המגבלות המוטלות עליה בהפסקת תוקפנותה – המעצמות נסוגות. הן משאירות בידי איראן את היכולות הגרעיניות שלה ואף מאפשרות לה להרחיבן בהמשך, ללא קשר למעשיה של איראן במזרח התיכון וברחבי העולם.

בעוד העולם התרבותי שוקע בתרדמת על מצע של אשליות –שליטי איראן מעודדים חתרנות וטרור, מפיצים הרס ומוות. למשמע המונים שקוראים בטהרן: “מוות לאמריקה, מוות לישראל” – המעצמות אוטמות את אוזניהן. למראה ההוצאות להורג של מתנגדי המשטר ובני קבוצות המיעוט באוכלוסייה, הן עוצמות את עיניהן. ונוכח החימוש המסיבי של ארגוני טרור, הן ממלאות פיהן מים. לכל היותר, הן משמיעות אמירה רפה למען הפרוטוקול.

בדקתי ומצאתי שלקראת יום הזיכרון לשואת עמנו, “התבשרנו” שבקרוב תתקיים בטהראן תחרות בינלאומית עם נציגים מחמישים ושש מדינות, תחרות נושאת פרסים של איורים העוסקים בהכחשת השואה של העם היהודי. האם על כך תישמע מחאה? במקרה הטוב, יישמע גינוי מינורי כדי לצאת ידי חובה.

מכובדיי, אזרחי ישראל ונציגי המדינות שאיתנו, סופה של האשליה הזאת להתנפץ. הממשלות הדמוקרטיות טעו טעות גורלית לפני מלחמת העולם השנייה, ואנחנו משוכנעים, אני חייב להגיד שיחד עם רבים משכנינו, שהן טועות טעות מרה גם עכשיו. ייתכן שהשותפות הזאת עם לא מעט משכנינו, השותפות בזיהוי האיומים, תהווה בסיס גם לשותפות ביצירת עתיד טוב יותר, בטוח יותר ושליו יותר באזורנו. בינתיים לא נירתע. נוסיף להתעקש על האמת, ונעשה כל מה שביכולתנו לפקוח את העיניים הנעצמות.

אינני רוצה להשלות אף אחד, עוד נכונו לנו ימי מבחן. אנחנו בעיצומו של מאבק גדול. מול העייפות, מול הרפיון, מול הכחשת המציאות –נתייצב במלוא כוחנו. בצד אלה שמסרבים להבין את עמדתנו, ישנם רבים אחרים שמזדהים איתנו. אבל גם אם ניאלץ לעמוד לבד, לא יירא לבנו. בכל תרחיש, בכל מצב, נשמור על זכותנו, נשמור על יכולתנו, נשמור על נחישותנו להגן על עצמנו.

לפני שבעים שנה היינו אומה של פליטי חרב, חסרי כוח וחסרי אפשרות להשמיע את קולנו. היום אנחנו משמיעים את דברנו, ואנחנו נחושים להבטיח את קיומנו ועתידנו. תפקידנו להיאבק בשואפים להשמידנו, ולא להרכין ראש בפניהם וגם לא להקל במציאות. לא ניתן שמדינת ישראל תהיה אפיזודה חולפת בתולדות עמנו.

מכובדיי, פגשתי היום במשרדי ניצול שואה בן שמונים וחמש – אברהם נידרהופר. אברהם נולד ברומניה, בגיל 12 היה עד לרצח מזעזע של קרובי משפחתו בידי חייל רומני. הוא נלקח ברכבת משא של בהמות לאוקראינה, שם שרד את השואה. רק ב-1969, בשל סירובם העקשני של השלטונות הקומוניסטיים ברומניה להרשות את יציאתו – הוא הגיע ארצה. בישראל עסק אברהם כמהנדס ומפקח בבניית המדינה. הוא סיפר לי את סיפורו בהתרגשות עצומה, לעתים הוא היה צריך לעצור מרוב התרגשות, ובסוף הפגישה הפציר בי: “ראש הממשלה”, הוא אמר, “תפקידך למנוע שואה נוספת”. והשבתי לו: “כך בדיוק אני רואה את אחריותי, כך בדיוק אני רואה את תפקידי”.

לפני שבעה עשורים הגיחו הניצולים מן המחנות, מן היערות, מצעדות המוות– רק בגדים בלים לגופם, כולם פצע וחבורה. כשניצבו אסירי המחנות מכל האומות למסדר השחרור, הם נשאלו על ידי חיילי בעלות-הברית לאן כל אחד מהם רוצה לחזור. הפולנים חזרו לפולין; הרוסים שבו לרוסיה; ההונגרים – להונגריה; האוקראינים – לאוקראינה. אלא שלהמוני יהודים כלל לא היה לאן לחזור. הם עמדו חסרי אונים, כי לא הייתה להם מדינה משלהם.

היום יש לנו מדינה משלנו – מדינה פורחת ומתקדמת. מדינה שיונקת ממורשת אבות וניצבת בחזית הידע העולמי. מדינה שמפיצה אור גדול. מדינה שלוקחת את גורלה בידיה. שבעים שנה אחרי גיאיות המוות, אנו מקדשים את החי, התוסס, היוצר, הפורח.

ישראל פורצת דרך בכל חזיתות הקדמה – במדע, ברפואה, בטכנולוגיה, בחקלאות, בחינוך ובתרבות – ואנחנו עושים זאת לא רק למען עמנו, אנחנו עושים זאת למען כל יושבי תבל. על אלה ייכון קיומנו – על המחויבות לביטחון ועתיד ישראל, על הדבקות במורשתנו, ועל אחדות העם שמפעם בו כוח חיים אדיר. עם ישראל שיצא משאול תחתיות –יכול לכל אתגר.

“התנערי מעפר קומי, לבשי בגדי תפארתך, עמי”. עם הנצח התנער מעפר, שב הביתה, זקף קומתו, הקים מדינה לתפארת והקים צבא לתפארת, צבא ההגנה לישראל, בו משרתים בנינו ובנותינו האמיצים והגיבורים.

נזכור את הנספים, נבטיח את החיים.

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Israel Brief April 28, 2014: Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day Begins

ISRAEL BRIEF

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Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day Begins

Source: Arutz Sheva, 4-28-14

In the official ceremony at Yad Vashem, six torches will be lit by six Holocaust survivors, followed by the reciting of the “Kel Maleh Rachamim” prayer, which is recited for the deceased, and the recitation of the Kaddish for the six million….READ MORE

Israel Brief April 27, 2014: Nation commemorates Holocaust with sirens, ceremonies

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Nation commemorates Holocaust with sirens, ceremonies

Source: Jerusalem Post, 4-27-14

Following the sirens, President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other senior officials took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority’s Jerusalem museum….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 27, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu Speech at Yad Vashem on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day

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Address by PM Netanyahu at Yad Vashem

Source: PMO, 4-27-14

יום ראשון כ”ז ניסן תשע”ד

Photo by  GPO

The last time I visited Yad Vashem I accompanied the Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper, a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people. We went through the exhibition rooms which present heartbreaking documentation of the destruction of European Jewry.

Today in my office, I met Fela, an 82 year old Holocaust survivor. It was important for her to tell me on this day of her memories as a child of seven who was forced to leave her two year old sister. Those memories are always with her. She told me, “I don’t remember what happened yesterday or the day before that, but as is the way of memories at my age, I remember the sad, tearful eyes of my two year old sister whom I left behind to die”.

I met Shalom, an 89 year old Holocaust survivor who told me how, aged 13, he left home at Mila 18 in the Warsaw Ghetto. Conditions in the ghetto were deteriorating. So he, a young boy, decided to leave. He said, “Mother objected and wailed but Father was quiet. He stood up, put his hands on my head, blessed me and told me to save myself”.

All the exhibition rooms here are filled with such heart-wrenching stories.

When we left Yad Vashem, I told the Prime Minister of Canada that my supreme duty as the Prime Minister of Israel is to ensure that there will be no more memorial sites like this, that there will never be another Holocaust.

I have said here many times that we must identify an existential threat in time and take action against it in time.

Tonight, on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, I ask: Why, in the years preceding the Holocaust, did the overwhelming majority of world leaders and Jewish leaders fail to detect the danger in time?

In retrospect, all the warning signs were there: the strengthening of the Nazi regime year after year; the horrific anti-Semitic propaganda which grew stronger with each passing month; and the murderous attacks on Jews which began as spurts and became a giant wave.

In retrospect, a direct line connects the racial laws and the gas chambers.

Few world leaders, notably Churchill, understood the enormity of the threat to humanity posed by Nazism. Few among our leaders, primarily Jabotinsky, warned against the imminent destruction facing our people. But they were widely criticized, their warnings disregarded and dismissed as the rantings of doomsayers and warmongers.

How is it possible that so many people failed to understand reality? The bitter, tragic truth is this: It is not that they did not see. They did not want to see.

And why did they choose not to see the truth? Because they did not want to face the consequences of that truth.

During the 1930s, when the Nazis were gaining momentum, the trauma of the First World War was still fresh. Twenty years earlier, the people of the West experienced a terrible trench war, which claimed the lives of 16 million people. The leaders of the West therefore operated on the basis of one axiom: Avoid another confrontation at any cost. Thus they laid the ground for the most horrible war in history.

This axiom of avoiding conflict at any cost was adopted not only by the leaders. It was shared by the peoples themselves, and primarily by the educated elites.

In 1933, for example, the year Hitler rose to power, a meeting was held by the students of Oxford University, an institution which produced generations of British leaders. Following a heated debate, the students voted for a resolution stating that they “would under no circumstances fight for their King and Country”.

This resolution passed by an overwhelming majority a mere ten days after Hitler entered the Chancellor’s office in Germany. The message reverberated in Berlin.

This example illustrates the West’s feeble response to the rise of Nazism.

Month after month, year after year, more and more information was received in London, Paris and Washington about Nazi capabilities and intentions. The picture gradually became clear for everyone to see.

But they had eyes and could not see, they had ears but could not hear.

When you refuse to accept reality as it is, you can deny it.

This is precisely what the leaders of the West did. They dismissed the murderous Nazi rhetoric as internal German politics; they downplayed the seriousness of the danger of the Nazi military build-up, claiming that it was the result of the natural will of a proud nation that should be recognized and accepted.

The reality was clear, but it was enveloped in a bubble of illusions. This bubble burst when the Nazis launched their blitzkrieg on Europe and Africa.

The price of illusion and wishful thinking was very steep. By the time the leaders of the West finally acted, their peoples paid a terrible price. World War II claimed the lives not of 16 million people, the horrific number of victims during World War I, but of 60 million, including one third of our people, who were butchered by the Nazi beast.

Citizens of Israel, my brothers and sisters,

Has the world learned the mistakes of the past?

Today we again face clear facts and a tangible threat. Iran calls for our destruction. It is developing nuclear weapons.

This is the reason it is building underground bunkers for enriching uranium. This is why it is constructing a heavy water facility to produce plutonium. This is the reason it continues to develop inter-continental ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads which will threaten the entire world.

Today, like then, there are those who dismiss Iran’s extreme rhetoric as serving domestic purposes. Today, like then, there are those who view Iran’s nuclear ambitions as the result of the natural will of a proud nation, a will that should be accepted.

And today, like then, those who make such claims are deluding themselves. They are making an historic mistake.

Fateful talks are currently being held between Iran and the world powers. This time too, the truth is evident to all: Iran seeks an agreement that will lift the sanctions and leave it as a nuclear threshold state with the capability to manufacture nuclear weapons within several months at most.

Iran wants a deal that will eliminate the sanctions and leave its capabilities intact.

A deal which enables Iran to be a nuclear threshold state will bring the entire world to the threshold of an abyss.

I hope that the lessons of the past have been learned, and that the desire to avoid confrontation at any cost will not lead to a deal that will exact a much heavier price in the future.

I call on the leaders of the world powers to insist that Iran fully dismantle its capacity to manufacture nuclear weapons, and to persist until this goal is achieved.

In any event, the people of Israel stand strong. Faced with an existential threat, our situation today is entirely different than it was during the Holocaust.

Today, we have a sovereign Jewish state. As Prime Minister of Israel, I do not hesitate to speak the truth to the world, even when faced with blind eyes and deaf ears. It is not only my right, it is my duty. I am always mindful of this duty, never more so than on this day, in this place.

On the eve of the Holocaust, some Jews avoided speaking out to the world’s nations, fearing that the struggle against Nazism would become “a Jewish problem”. Others believed that if they kept silent, the danger would pass.

They kept silent, and disaster struck.

Today, we are unafraid to speak the truth to world leaders. As is written in the Bible: “I will speak of your testimonies before kings, and I will not be ashamed… listen, for I will speak the truth.”

Unlike the Holocaust, when the Jewish people were like a wind-tossed leaf and utterly defenseless, we now have great power to defend ourselves, and it is ready for any mission.

This power rests on the courage and ingenuity of the soldiers of the IDF and the men and women of our security forces. It is this power that enabled us, against all odds, to build the State of Israel.

Look at the remarkable achievements we have made in the 66 years of our independence. All of us – scientists, writers, teachers, doctors, entrepreneurs, employees, artists, farmers – the entire people of Israel, each one in their own field –  together we have built a glorious state. The spirit of the people of Israel is sublime, our accomplishments tremendous. Seven decades after the destruction of the Holocaust, the State of Israel is a wonder of the world.

On this day, on behalf of the Jewish people, I say to all those who sought to destroy us, and to all those who still seek to destroy us: You have failed, and you will fail again.

The State of Israel is stronger than ever. It is a state that seeks peace with all its neighbors and it pulsates with an iron will to ensure the future of our people.

“The people will arise like a lion cub and raise itself like a lion…and Judea will dwell securely”. (Numbers 23:24; Jeremiah 23:6).

 

 

Jewish Brief April 27, 2014: 10000 set out from Auschwitz to commemorate Holocaust victims in March of the Living

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10000 set out from Auschwitz to commemorate Holocaust victims in March of the Living

Source: Jerusalem Post, 4-26-14

The International March of the Living is an annual educational program which brings students from all over the world to Poland to study the history of the Holocaust and the roots of prejudice, intolerance….READ MORE

Israel Brief April 8, 2013: Israel stops to remember victims of Holocaust

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Israel stops to remember victims of Holocaust

Source: JTA, 4-8-13 

John Kerry then joined Israeli President Shimon Peres for the “Unto Every Person There is a Name” ceremony held each year at the Knesset, where Peres read out the names of his relatives who were victims of the Holocaust….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief April 8, 2013: Hatred of Jews remains strong, PM Benjamin Netanyahu & President Shimon Peres tell Yom Hashoah Ceremony

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Hatred of Jews remains strong, Netanyahu and Peres tell Yom Hashoah rite

Source: The Jewish Journal of Greater L.A, 4-8-13

The hatred of Jews is still strong more than 70 years after the Holocaust began, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres said at the national Yom Hashoah ceremony at Yad Vashem….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief April 8, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu: We cannot forfeit our security — Speaking at Yad VaShem’s Yom HaShoah Ceremony

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Netanyahu: We cannot forfeit our security

Source: Jerusalem Post, 4-8-13

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke at the main state ceremony marking Holocaust Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on Sunday, quoting anti-Semitic statements by Iranian religious leaders as evidence that the hatred against the Jews….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief April 7, 2013: President Shimon Peres speaks at Holocaust Remembrance Day Yom HaShoah ceremony

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Peres speaks at Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony

Source: Ynetnews, 4-7-13

President Shimon Peres said at the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony in Yad Vashem: “The enlightened world must ask itself how it is that so shortly after the incinerators have been extinguished, after the tremendous loss of lives that the Allies….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief April 7, 2013: President Shimon Peres: Threat of another Holocaust is a threat to all nations פרס: איום בשואה על עם אחר – איום על כל העמים

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פרס: איום בשואה על עם אחר – איום על כל העמים

Source: Ynetnews, 4-7-13

ביד ושם נערך אמש טקס הזיכרון הממלכתי לשואה ולגבורה בנוכחות הנשיא וראש הממשלה. פרס: “עדיין נותרו באירופה כתמים אנטישמים מקוממים”. נתניהו: “ניצולי השואה הם סמל התקומה”. במקביל, נערכה עצרת זיכרון ממלכתית במכון משואה. נועם (דבול) דביר ובועז פיילר. עדכון אחרון: 08.04.13, 00:21. מדינת ישראל מתייחדת עם ששת המיליונים. אמש (יום א’) בשעה 20:00 נפתחו אירועי יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה בטקס הממלכתי ביד ושם. בעצרת נשאו דברים נשיא המדינה שמעון פרס וראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו. יו”ר יד ושם, אבנר שלו, העלה את אבוקת הזיכרון וניצולת השואה עליזה שומרון ויטיס נשאה …

קורא עוד

Israel Political Brief April 7, 2013: Israeli Defense Force Chief of the General Staff Benny Gantz : Israel ensures Holocaust won’t recur

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Gantz : Israel ensures Holocaust won’t recur

Source: Jerusalem Post, 4-7-13

Israeli Chief of Staff Beny Ganze Visits Auschwitz

Benny Gantz spoke at the site of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland on Sunday on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, saying that “Israel ensures that a horror such as this will not recur….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 23, 2012: President Barack Obama’s Speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum Honoring the Pledge of ‘never again’ & Saying ‘I’ll be there for Israel’

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President Barack Obama Delivers Remarks at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., April 23, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Obama at Holocaust museum: ‘I’ll be there for Israel’

Source: JTA, 4-23-12

President Obama in an address at a Holocaust remembrance event said he would “always be there for Israel” and defended his administration’s record on preventing atrocities.

Obama spoke Monday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, a few days after Holocaust Remembrance Day. Prior to his address, he took a tour of the museum guided by Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust memoirist and Nobel Peace laureate.

He recounted meeting with a woman at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial, when he was a presidential candidate in 2008, who told him that the Jews only had one state.

“I said I would always be there for Israel,” Obama said, and he cited the steps he has taken to isolate Iran because of its suspected nuclear weapons program.

Obama also recounted steps taken by his administration through military and diplomatic action to prevent atrocities in Sudan, Libya, Uganda and Ivory Coast.

The president has come under pressure in recent months for not doing more to oust Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose crackdown on opponents has killed thousands. Obama pledged to keep working with allies to bring about “the end of the Assad regime.”

Elsewhere in his address, however, he said that his commitment to preventing atrocities “does not mean we intervene militarily every time there is an injustice in the world.”

Obama levies new tech sanctions on Syria, Iran:

Source: AP, 4-23-12

Under pressure to stop the Syrian government’s deadly crackdown, President Barack Obama on Monday levied new sanctions on people and entities in Syria and Iran that use technology to target their citizens and perpetrate human rights abuses.
Obama’s announcement underscored the degree to which technology, from cellphones to social media, has fueled popular uprisings in countries throughout the Arab world and at the same time has given autocratic regimes new ways to track dissidents and suppress political dissent.

“These technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to repress them,” said Obama, as he announced the sanctions during a solemn speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

Surrounded by the haunting memories of the Holocaust, Obama spoke broadly about the international community’s obligation to prevent the “madness” of mass killings. And he issued a sharp warning to governments that launch violent crackdowns on civilians.

“National sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people,” he said….READ MORE

President Obama Speaks at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Musuem

Source: WH, 4-23-12

Today, President Obama spoke at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum about honoring the pledge of “never again” by making sure we are doing everything we can to prevent and end atrocities and save lives.

After being introduced by Professor Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, the President spoke of the importance of telling our children—and all future generations—about that dark and evil time in human history when six million innocent men, women, and children were murdered just because they were Jewish.

We must tell our children. But more than that, we must teach them. Because remembrance without resolve is a hollow gesture. Awareness without action changes nothing. In this sense, “never again” is a challenge to us all — to pause and to look within.

For the Holocaust may have reached its barbaric climax at Treblinka and Auschwitz and Belzec, but it started in the hearts of ordinary men and women. And we have seen it again — madness that can sweep through peoples, sweep through nations, embed itself. The killings in Cambodia, the killings in Rwanda, the killings in Bosnia, the killings in Darfur — they shock our conscience, but they are the awful extreme of a spectrum of ignorance and intolerance that we see every day; the bigotry that says another person is less than my equal, less than human. These are the seeds of hate that we cannot let take root in our heart.

President Obama has made it clear that “preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America.” Last year he issued a Presidential Directive to make sure that the U.S. has the neccesary structures and mechanisms in place to prevent and respond to mass atrocities. He also established an Atrocities Prevention Board to bring together senior officials from across our government to focus on this critical mission. And there’s more work to be done:

Going forward, we’ll strengthen our tools across the board, and we’ll create new ones. The intelligence community will prepare, for example, the first-ever National Intelligence Estimate on the risk of mass atrocities and genocide. We’re going to institutionalize the focus on this issue. Across government, “alert channels” will ensure that information about unfolding crises — and dissenting opinions — quickly reach decision-makers, including me.

Our Treasury Department will work to more quickly deploy its financial tools to block the flow of money to abusive regimes. Our military will take additional steps to incorporate the prevention of atrocities into its doctrine and its planning. And the State Department will increase its ability to surge our diplomats and experts in a crisis. USAID will invite people and high-tech companies to help create new technologies to quickly expose violations of human rights. And we’ll work with other nations so the burden is better shared — because this is a global responsibility.

In short, we need to be doing everything we can to prevent and respond to these kinds of atrocities — because national sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people.

President Barack Obama and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Holocaust Survivor Elie Wiesel Light Candles
President Barack Obama and Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel light candles in the Hall of Remembrance during a tour of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., April 23, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

Remarks by the President at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Washington, D.C.

10:00 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everyone. It is a great honor to be with you here today. Of course, it is a truly humbling moment to be introduced by Elie Wiesel. Along with Sara Bloomfield, the outstanding director here, we just spent some time among the exhibits, and this is now the second visit I’ve had here. My daughters have come here. It is a searing occasion whenever you visit. And as we walked, I was taken back to the visit that Elie mentioned, the time that we traveled together to Buchenwald.

And I recall how he showed me the barbed-wire fences and the guard towers. And we walked the rows where the barracks once stood, where so many left this Earth — including Elie’s father, Shlomo. We stopped at an old photo — men and boys lying in their wooden bunks, barely more than skeletons. And if you look closely, you can see a 16-year old boy, looking right at the camera, right into your eyes. You can see Elie.

And at the end of our visit that day, Elie spoke of his father. “I thought one day I will come back and speak to him,” he said, “of times in which memory has become a sacred duty of all people of goodwill.” Elie, you’ve devoted your life to upholding that sacred duty. You’ve challenged us all — as individuals, and as nations — to do the same, with the power of your example, the eloquence of your words, as you did again just now. And so to you and Marion, we are extraordinarily grateful.

To Sara, to Tom Bernstein, to Josh Bolten, members of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, and everyone who sustains this living memorial — thank you for welcoming us here today. To the members of Congress, members of the diplomatic corps, including Ambassador Michael Oren of Israel, we are glad to be with you.

And most of all, we are honored to be in the presence of men and women whose lives are a testament to the endurance and the strength of the human spirit — the inspiring survivors. It is a privilege to be with you, on a very personal level. As I’ve told some of you before, I grew up hearing stories about my great uncle — a soldier in the 89th Infantry Division who was stunned and shaken by what he saw when he helped to liberate Ordruf, part of Buchenwald. And I’ll never forget what I saw at Buchenwald, where so many perished with the words of Sh’ma Yis’ra’eil on their lips.

I’ve stood with survivors, in the old Warsaw ghettos, where a monument honors heroes who said we will not go quietly; we will stand up, we will fight back. And I’ve walked those sacred grounds at Yad Vashem, with its lesson for all nations — the Shoah cannot be denied.

During my visit to Yad Vashem I was given a gift, inscribed with those words from the Book of Joel: “Has the like of this happened in your days or in the days of your fathers? Tell your children about it, and let your children tell theirs, and their children the next generation.” That’s why we’re here. Not simply to remember, but to speak.

I say this as a President, and I say it as a father. We must tell our children about a crime unique in human history. The one and only Holocaust — six million innocent people — men, women, children, babies — sent to their deaths just for being different, just for being Jewish. We tell them, our children, about the millions of Poles and Catholics and Roma and gay people and so many others who also must never be forgotten. Let us tell our children not only how they died, but also how they lived — as fathers and mothers, and sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters who loved and hoped and dreamed, just like us.

We must tell our children about how this evil was allowed to happen — because so many people succumbed to their darkest instincts, and because so many others stood silent. Let us also tell our children about the Righteous Among the Nations. Among them was Jan Karski, a young Polish Catholic, who witnessed Jews being put on cattle cars, who saw the killings, and who told the truth, all the way to President Roosevelt himself.

Jan Karski passed away more than a decade ago. But today, I’m proud to announce that this spring I will honor him with America’s highest civilian honor — the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (Applause.)

We must tell our children. But more than that, we must teach them. Because remembrance without resolve is a hollow gesture. Awareness without action changes nothing. In this sense, “never again” is a challenge to us all — to pause and to look within.

For the Holocaust may have reached its barbaric climax at Treblinka and Auschwitz and Belzec, but it started in the hearts of ordinary men and women. And we have seen it again — madness that can sweep through peoples, sweep through nations, embed itself. The killings in Cambodia, the killings in Rwanda, the killings in Bosnia, the killings in Darfur — they shock our conscience, but they are the awful extreme of a spectrum of ignorance and intolerance that we see every day; the bigotry that says another person is less than my equal, less than human. These are the seeds of hate that we cannot let take root in our heart.

“Never again” is a challenge to reject hatred in all of its forms — including anti-Semitism, which has no place in a civilized world. And today, just steps from where he gave his life protecting this place, we honor the memory of Officer Stephen Tyrone Johns, whose family joins us today.

“Never again” is a challenge to defend the fundamental right of free people and free nations to exist in peace and security — and that includes the State of Israel. And on my visit to the old Warsaw Ghetto, a woman looked me in the eye, and she wanted to make sure America stood with Israel. She said, “It’s the only Jewish state we have.” And I made her a promise in that solemn place. I said I will always be there for Israel.

So when efforts are made to equate Zionism to racism, we reject them. When international fora single out Israel with unfair resolutions, we vote against them. When attempts are made to delegitimize the state of Israel, we oppose them. When faced with a regime that threatens global security and denies the Holocaust and threatens to destroy Israel, the United States will do everything in our power to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

“Never again” is a challenge to societies. We’re joined today by communities who’ve made it your mission to prevent mass atrocities in our time. This museum’s Committee of Conscience, NGOs, faith groups, college students, you’ve harnessed the tools of the digital age — online maps and satellites and a video and social media campaign seen by millions. You understand that change comes from the bottom up, from the grassroots. You understand — to quote the task force convened by this museum — “preventing genocide is an achievable goal.” It is an achievable goal. It is one that does not start from the top; it starts from the bottom up.

It’s remarkable — as we walked through this exhibit, Elie and I were talking as we looked at the unhappy record of the State Department and so many officials here in the United States during those years. And he asked, “What would you do?” But what you all understand is you don’t just count on officials, you don’t just count on governments. You count on people — and mobilizing their consciences.

And finally, “never again” is a challenge to nations. It’s a bitter truth — too often, the world has failed to prevent the killing of innocents on a massive scale. And we are haunted by the atrocities that we did not stop and the lives we did not save.

Three years ago today, I joined many of you for a ceremony of remembrance at the U.S. Capitol. And I said that we had to do “everything we can to prevent and end atrocities.” And so I want to report back to some of you today to let you know that as President I’ve done my utmost to back up those words with deeds. Last year, in the first-ever presidential directive on this challenge, I made it clear that “preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America.”

That does not mean that we intervene militarily every time there’s an injustice in the world. We cannot and should not. It does mean we possess many tools — diplomatic and political, and economic and financial, and intelligence and law enforcement and our moral suasion — and using these tools over the past three years, I believe — I know — that we have saved countless lives.

When the referendum in South Sudan was in doubt, it threatened to reignite a conflict that had killed millions. But with determined diplomacy, including by some people in this room, South Sudan became the world’s newest nation. And our diplomacy continues, because in Darfur, in Abyei, in Southern Kordofan and the Blue Nile, the killing of innocents must come to an end. The Presidents of Sudan and South Sudan must have the courage to negotiate — because the people of Sudan and South Sudan deserve peace. That is work that we have done, and it has saved lives.

When the incumbent in Côte D’Ivoire lost an election but refused to give it up — give up power, it threatened to unleash untold ethnic and religious killings. But with regional and international diplomacy, and U.N. peacekeepers who stood their ground and protected civilians, the former leader is now in The Hague, and Côte D’Ivoire is governed by its rightful leader — and lives were saved.

When the Libyan people demanded their rights and Muammar Qaddafi’s forces bore down on Benghazi, a city of 700,000, and threatened to hunt down its people like rats, we forged with allies and partners a coalition that stopped his troops in their tracks. And today, the Libyan people are forging their own future, and the world can take pride in the innocent lives that we saved.

And when the Lord’s Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony continued its atrocities in Central Africa, I ordered a small number of American advisors to help Uganda and its neighbors pursue the LRA. And when I made that announcement, I directed my National Security Council to review our progress after 150 days. We have done so, and today I can announce that our advisors will continue their efforts to bring this madman to justice, and to save lives. (Applause.) It is part of our regional strategy to end the scourge that is the LRA, and help realize a future where no African child is stolen from their family and no girl is raped and no boy is turned into a child soldier.

We’ve stepped up our efforts in other ways. We’re doing more to protect women and girls from the horror of wartime sexual violence. With the arrest of fugitives like Ratko Mladic, charged with ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, the world sent a message to war criminals everywhere: We will not relent in bringing you to justice. Be on notice. And for the first time, we explicitly barred entry into the United States of those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Now we’re doing something more. We’re making sure that the United States government has the structures, the mechanisms to better prevent and respond to mass atrocities. So I created the first-ever White House position dedicated to this task. It’s why I created a new Atrocities Prevention Board, to bring together senior officials from across our government to focus on this critical mission. This is not an afterthought. This is not a sideline in our foreign policy. The board will convene for the first time today, at the White House. And I’m pleased that one of its first acts will be to meet with some of your organizations — citizens and activists who are partners in this work, who have been carrying this torch.

Going forward, we’ll strengthen our tools across the board, and we’ll create new ones. The intelligence community will prepare, for example, the first-ever National Intelligence Estimate on the risk of mass atrocities and genocide. We’re going to institutionalize the focus on this issue. Across government, “alert channels” will ensure that information about unfolding crises — and dissenting opinions — quickly reach decision-makers, including me.

Our Treasury Department will work to more quickly deploy its financial tools to block the flow of money to abusive regimes. Our military will take additional steps to incorporate the prevention of atrocities into its doctrine and its planning. And the State Department will increase its ability to surge our diplomats and experts in a crisis. USAID will invite people and high-tech companies to help create new technologies to quickly expose violations of human rights. And we’ll work with other nations so the burden is better shared — because this is a global responsibility.

In short, we need to be doing everything we can to prevent and respond to these kinds of atrocities — because national sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people. (Applause.)

We recognize that, even as we do all we can, we cannot control every event. And when innocents suffer, it tears at our conscience. Elie alluded to what we feel as we see the Syrian people subjected to unspeakable violence, simply for demanding their universal rights. And we have to do everything we can. And as we do, we have to remember that despite all the tanks and all the snipers, all the torture and brutality unleashed against them, the Syrian people still brave the streets. They still demand to be heard. They still seek their dignity. The Syrian people have not given up, which is why we cannot give up.

And so with allies and partners, we will keep increasing the pressure, with a diplomatic effort to further isolate Assad and his regime, so that those who stick with Assad know that they are making a losing bet. We’ll keep increasing sanctions to cut off the regime from the money it needs to survive. We’ll sustain a legal effort to document atrocities so killers face justice, and a humanitarian effort to get relief and medicine to the Syrian people. And we’ll keep working with the “Friends of Syria” to increase support for the Syrian opposition as it grows stronger.

Indeed, today we’re taking another step. I’ve signed an executive order that authorizes new sanctions against the Syrian government and Iran and those that abet them for using technologies to monitor and track and target citizens for violence. These technologies should not empower — these technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to repress them. And it’s one more step that we can take toward the day that we know will come — the end of the Assad regime that has brutalized the Syrian people — and allow the Syrian people to chart their own destiny.

Even with all the efforts I’ve described today, even with everything that hopefully we have learned, even with the incredible power of museums like this one, even with everything that we do to try to teach our children about our own responsibilities, we know that our work will never be done. There will be conflicts that are not easily resolved. There will be senseless deaths that aren’t prevented. There will be stories of pain and hardship that test our hopes and try our conscience. And in such moments it can be hard to imagine a more just world.

It can be tempting to throw up our hands and resign ourselves to man’s endless capacity for cruelty. It’s tempting sometimes to believe that there is nothing we can do. And all of us have those doubts. All of us have those moments — perhaps especially those who work most ardently in these fields.

So in the end, I come back to something Elie said that day we visited Buchenwald together. Reflecting on all that he had endured, he said, “We had the right to give up.” “We had the right to give up on humanity, to give up on culture, to give up on education, to give up on the possibility of living one’s life with dignity, in a world that has no place for dignity.” They had that right. Imagine what they went through. They had the right to give up. Nobody would begrudge them that. Who’d question someone giving up in such circumstances?

But, Elie said, “We rejected that possibility, and we said, no, we must continue believing in a future.” To stare into the abyss, to face the darkness and insist there is a future — to not give up, to say yes to life, to believe in the possibility of justice.

To Elie and to the survivors who are here today, thank you for not giving up. You show us the way. (Applause.) You show us the way. If you cannot give up, if you can believe, then we can believe. If you can continue to strive and speak, then we can speak and strive for a future where there’s a place for dignity for every human being. That has been the cause of your lives. It must be the work of our nation and of all nations.

So God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

END
10:27 A.M. EDT

Fact Sheet: Sanctions Against Those Complicit in Grave Human Rights Abuses Via Information Technology in Syria and Iran

“Cyberspace, and the technologies that enable it, allow people of every nationality, race, faith and point of view to communicate, cooperate, and prosper like never before. We encourage people all over the world to use digital media…and denounce those who harass, unfairly arrest, threaten, or commit violent acts against the people who use these technologies.
-President Obama, International Strategy for Cyberspace, May 2011
Twenty-first century threats to human rights require twenty-first century tools to combat them. This Administration recognizes that some oppressive governments seek to target their citizens for grave human rights abuses through the use of information and communications technology. In an Executive Order signed today, President Obama authorized a new program of sanctions, aimed at those who facilitate serious human rights abuses in Syria and Iran through such means.

The same Global Positioning System (GPS), satellite communications, mobile phone, and Internet technology employed by activists across the Middle East and North Africa and around the world is being used against them in Syria and Iran, as the world has witnessed particularly clearly in Syria in recent weeks. The Syrian and Iranian governments are rapidly increasing their capabilities to disrupt, monitor, and track communications networks that are essential to the ability of Syrians and Iranians to communicate with each other and the outside world.

The Executive Order announced today by President Obama establishes financial and travel sanctions against those who perpetrate or facilitate “Grave Human Rights Abuses Via Information Technology” in Syria and Iran (or “GHRAVITY sanctions”) and will:

• Degrade the ability of the Syrian and Iranian governments to acquire and utilize such technology to oppress their people;
• Hold accountable those government officials, companies, and individuals committing or facilitating human rights abuses.
• Send a clear message that the United States recognizes and is committed to combating this new and growing human rights threat;
• Further isolate the regimes in Damascus and Tehran;
• Strengthen international norms against using information and communications technology to commit human rights abuses;
The order authorizes sanctions against persons determined:

• To have operated, or to have directed the operation of, information and communications technology that facilitates computer or network disruption, monitoring or tracking that could assist in or enable serious human rights abuses by or on behalf of the Government of Iran or the Government of Syria;
• To have sold, leased, or otherwise provided, directly or indirectly, goods, services, or technology to Iran or Syria likely to be used to facilitate computer or network disruption, monitoring or tracking that could assist in or enable serious human rights abuses by or on behalf of the Government of Iran or the Government of Syria;
• To have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, those activities; or
• To be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to the order.
We will implement this sanctions instrument consistent with our strong belief in the need to ensure that the citizens of Syria and Iran have access to information and communications technology that facilitates their access to information and ability to protect and organize themselves in the face of oppression. This order underscores our efforts to help the Syrian and Iranian people pierce through the “electronic curtain” that the Syrian and Iranian regimes have put in place. The Administration recognizes the importance of preserving the global telecommunications supply chains for essential products and services, and will take great care to ensure the utilization of sanctions does not disrupt transactions necessary to enable the Syrian and Iranian people to communicate.

Given the deplorable and deteriorating human rights situation in Syria and Iran, our urgent priority is to pursue sanctions against those two governments and entities and individuals in those countries helping them to commit human rights abuses. The order also authorizes sanctions against third-country entities or individuals where they meet the criteria in the order.

Israel Brief April 19, 2012: Scenes from Yom Hashoah 2012

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Scenes from Yom Hashoah 2012

Source: JTA, 4-20-12

dadada

Berliners participating in an interfaith Holocaust remembrance event polish the bronze Stumbling Block memorials that bear testimony to the deportation of Jews from the city in 1942. Polishing the plaque of Harriet Freifrau von Campe are, from left, Dalia Grinfeld, Amina Kamed, Kewin Jessa and Sertac Heris — all members of the JUGA interfaith group. The Central Council of Jews in Germany was among the organizations sponsoring the ceremony. (Toby Axelrod)

Yehuda Vidavski lights a memorial flame at the opening ceremony for Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, April 18, 2012 (Noam Moskowitz/flash90)

Israelis in Jerusalem pause during a two-minute siren in memory of victims of the Holocaust, April 19, 2012. (Avishag Shar/Yashuv/Flash90)

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 19, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu;s Speech on Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day at the “Unto Every Person There is a Name” Yom HaShoah Ceremony at the Knesset

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the “Unto Every Person There is a Name” Ceremony at the Knesset

Source: PMO, 4-19-12


Photo by GPO

The following is from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks today on the occasion of Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, at the Knesset, during the “Unto Every Person There is a Name” ceremony:

“This is the first ‘Unto Every Person There is a Name’ ceremony in which my father-in-law, Shmuel Ben-Artzi, is not listening to the reading of the names.  He passed away last November.  He used to listen to the reading of the names.  He thought that this was the way to give expression to the souls that were lost.  He saw the loss as both a personal and national thing, the dimensions of which can scarcely be described.

He came to the country when he was 18, from the town of Bilgoraj in Poland, despite the strong opposition of his father.  He was sent as an outstanding student of the Novardok yeshiva in order to open a branch here in Bnei Brak.  He soon went to the orchards and decided that he had to redeem the soil of the Land of Israel; he worked in the orchards for seven years.  Afterwards, he became a teacher in Tiberias.  He was a great teacher, a leading educator.  He held a Bible study class for adults for 30 years, for the same people for 30 years.

He was a major Bible researcher but he was also a poet.  In his poetry, he expressed the love for the Land of Israel, for the [Jewish] People, for people and for nature.  But above all, in his poetry, he expressed his pain, personal and national, over the Holocaust.

His family was destroyed.  I will read their names:

His father, Moshe Hahn, his father’s wife Ita, his twin sister Yehudit, who was 24.

His brothers Meir Hahn (18), Shimon Tzvi (16) and Aryeh Leib (13), and his little sister Feizele.

His aunt Ma’tel Koenigstein, her son Hillel and her eldest daughter.  His uncle Mendel, his wife and their two children.

His uncle Avraham Tauber, his wife and their son and daughter.  His aunt Rachel Tauber and her three sons – Avraham, Yaakov and Shlomo, and their wives and children.  His aunt Hinda and her husband Yehezkel.  His aunt Hendel, her husband and their children.  His aunt Paula and her two daughters.

May their memories be blessed.”

דברי ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו בטקס “לכל איש יש שם” בכנסת

יום חמישי כ”ז ניסן תשע”בזוהי הפעם הראשונה בטקס הזה ‘לכל איש יש שם’ שחמי, שמואל בן ארצי, אינו מקשיב להקראת השמות. הוא נפטר לפני חודשיים אחדים. הוא נהג להקשיב לקריאת השמות, אפילו להיגוי, הוא
חשב שזאת הדרך לתת ביטוי לנשמות שהלכו לאיבוד. הוא ראה את האובדן כדבר אישי ולאומי במימדים שקשה לתאר.

הוא עלה לארץ בגיל 18 מהעירייה בילגוראיי בפולין חרף התנגדותו העזה של אביו. הוא נשלח כעילוי על ידי ישיבת נוברדאו לפתוח סניף כאן בבני ברק. מהר מאוד הוא הגיע לפרדסים והחליט שעליו לגאול את אדמת ארץ ישראל, ולכן הוא עבד 7 שנים בפרדס. לאחר מכן הפך למורה בטבריה. הוא היה מורה גדול, מחנך דגול. הוא קיים חוג ללימוד תנ”ך של מבוגרים במשך 30 שנה, 30 שנה אותם אנשים.

הוא היה חוקר תנ”ך גדול, אבל הוא גם היה משורר. בשירתו ביטא את אהבת הארץ ואהבת העם ואהבת האדם ואהבת הטבע שלו, אבל מעל הכל הוא ביטא בשיריו את הכאב שלו, האישי והלאומי על השואה. אני מבקש להקריא לכם אחד משיריו שנקרא ‘חלום לזכר עיירתי בילגוראיי’.

“לזכר עיירתי בילגוראיי,
הלילה הייתי בעיירת מולדת,
בנוף שיקר ללבי בהילו.
בבאר ילדותי בבואה עוד רועדת,
בית אבא עדיין עומד על תילו.

בעצי ערמונים משתלהב כבר האודם,
טבעו של הסתיו בפולין הוא בכך.
אני ואחי משתרכים כמקודם,
בשביל סוכתנו נושאים אנו סכך.

הרוח רודפת ענן ברקיע,
הערב הגשם לבוא לא יהין.
עוד רגע ואנו הביתה נגיע,
מיד נקשט סוכתנו כדין.

קרבנו לבית, גויים בקננו,
לשווא עוד חיפשתי סוכת השלום.
אחי את עומסו לי השאיר – ואיננו.
לבד שם בכיתי עד סוף החלום”.

הסוכה נחרבה, הבית הושמד, בני המשפחה – כולם נרצחו, ואקריא את שמותיהם:

אביו משה הון, אשתו של אביו, איטה הון אחותו התאומה של חמי, יהודית בת משה הון, בת 24.

האחים מאיר הון, בן 18, שמעון-צבי הון, בן 16, אריה לייב הון, בן 13, ואחותו הקטנה פייזלה הון, בת 10.

דודתו מאטל קניגשטיין ובנה הלל בן יחזקאל ובתו הבכורה, והדוד מנדל הון, אשתו ושני ילדיהם.

הדוד אברהם טאובר, אשתו, בתו ובנו, הדודה רחל טאובר ושלושת בניה – אברהם, יעקב ושלמה, נשותיהם וילדיהם. הדודה הינדה ובעלה יחזקאל. הדודה הנדל, בעלה וילדיהם. הדודה פאלה ושתי בנותיה.

יהי זכרם ברוך

Israel Political Brief April 19, 2012: US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Honors Holocaust Victims at the Pentagon Ceremony

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Panetta Honors Holocaust Victims at the Pentagon

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, attend ceremony in honor of Yom Hashoah at the Pentagon.

Barak and Panetta at Yom Hashoah ceremony

Barak and Panetta at Yom Hashoah ceremony
Reuters

The Pentagon held a ceremony on Thursday in honor of Yom Hashoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day. The ceremony was attended by U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

“Today we pause to remember and honor 6 million souls who were murdered not because of anything they had done, but because of who they were,” Panetta said during the ceremony, according to a statement released by the U.S. Department of Defense.

He said he helped to establish Yom Hashoah as a U.S. observance while serving in the House of Representatives in 1980. He added that the day is He nHe aHis uiisalso an occasion to remember survivors of the Holocaust.

“They bore witness to evil and to tragedy, and in their strength we all find inspiration – inspiration to fight against the intolerance and indifference that allowed all of this to happen,” said Panetta.

The program included an appearance by guest speaker Charlotte Schiff, the sole member of her family who survived the Holocaust. Panetta said Schiff has dedicated her life to making sure those who perished in the Holocaust are never forgotten.

“It is our honor to affirm to you that we will never stop fighting in the memory of those who perished – fighting for a better future, [and] fighting for a world safe from aggression, from tyranny and from injustice,” he told Schiff.

Panetta added that Yom Hashoah is also a day to celebrate the Jewish people “who overcame this tragedy and built a strong and vibrant Jewish state in Israel.”…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 19, 2012: Israel Ambassador to US Michael Oren’s Speech at Holocaust Days of Remembrance ceremony in US Capitol Rotunda

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Remarks on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day
U.S. Capitol Rotunda

April 19, 2012

Source: Israel Embassy US, 4-18-12

The legacy of the Holocaust endows us with a double duty. First, we must not allow the memory of the six million to be trivialized. Human history is rife with atrocities, massacres, and wars, but nothing be equated with the enormity of the Holocaust. It is profoundly, unbearably,unique. But, paradoxically, our second duty is to prevent another Holocaust from occurring.

Imagine if one third of the Jewish people had not been annihilated. Imagine the doctors, the researchers, and the artists. Imagine the grandchildren and great-grandchildren flourishing throughout the world today. That is what we mean when we pledge ‘Never Again.’

Yes, we must cherish the fact that we live in a time when there is a proud and sovereign Jewish state. We must appreciate that state’s remarkable accomplishments in science, technology, and the arts. And we must value the historic alliance between Israel and the United States. Things are indeed different than they were eighty years ago.

Yet, at the same time, we must also acknowledge that evil did not appear suddenly in the 1930s and depart in 1945, never to return again. We must admit that the genocidal hatred of Jews that burned during those years remains a fierce andre-combustible scourge. We cannot ignore the similarities between the conditions that fostered the Holocaust and those we nowwitness daily.

Consider this: Eighty years ago, the world was scarcely in the mood for confrontation. People were weary from the devastating losses of a recent war. Economies were in crisis. Unemployment was high, foreclosures commonplace.  People were focusing inward, grappling with their own problems.

Meanwhile, a radical militant movement dreamt of regional and global domination. Headed by a Supreme Leader, the movement burnt books and crushed its democratic opponents. It amassed vast arsenals of advanced weaponry and invaded neighboring countries. The radicals played on their nation’s injured pride and stressed its racial superiority. The movement denigrated the Jewish people as a cancer that had to be cut out.

Today, too, there is such a radical regime in Iran. It also has a Supreme Leader. It also butchers its democratic opponents, supports terror,and seeks regional and global hegemony. The Iranian regime similarly espouses racism. It denies the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis while pledging to murder another six million—in Israel. And to achieve its abominable goals, Iran is developingmilitary nuclear capabilities and the missiles to deliver them.

Fortunately, today is not eighty years ago. Though tired of war and wrestling with economic difficulties, the United States is not watching passively. On the contrary, the White House and the Congress are leading the world in imposing harsh sanctions on Iran.

President Obama has said that the United States will not contain a nuclear-armed Iranand keeps all options on the table. And Israel, the President said, has the right to defend itself against any Middle Eastern threat.  Only Israel can decide how best to protect its citizens.

We must never equate the Holocaust with any other event but we also must never let it recur. Equipped with nuclear arms, Iran could blackmail the world—overrunning its major oilsources and endangering the lives of millions. We must not compare the Holocaust to any other situation but, at the same time, we cannot forget. We now have the opportunity—indeed, the duty—to confront Iranian leaders with the unambiguous choice never posed to the Nazis. The Iranian regime can either abandon its military nuclear program or face truly crippling sanctions and a credible military threat.

We have a dual duty and the theme of this year’s Days of Remembrance–the stories of rescuers–reminds us of that obligation. These inspiring stories are immortalized at Yad Veshem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial and research center, which for fifty years has honored those righteous Gentiles who risked their lives–and often their families’ lives— to save Jews.  Those heroes understood with all their souls the horrific uniqueness of the Holocaust.

So, too, do the survivors and World War II veterans who knew first- hand the horrors of Nazism. My father, who is present in the Rotunda today, was one of those GIs. He battled from Normandy to the Bulge to the final victory, winning two bronze stars for valor. Not only as your son, but as Israel’s ambassador to this great nation, I want to say thank you, Dad, and thank you to all the brave Americans who fought alongside you.

Rescuers, survivors and veterans—their mere presence warns us against equating the Holocaust with any other atrocity. Yet, they urge us to prevent the Holocaust’s recurrence. They remind us to be vigilant, they tell us to stand strong. And they exhort us, always, to remember.

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 18, 2012: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Speech at Holocaust Remembrance Day / Yom Hashoah Ceremony at Yad Vashem

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PM Netanyahu’s Speech at Holocaust Remembrance Day

Photo by GPO

Source: PMO, 4-18-12

Yesterday morning, I visited an old-age home for Holocaust survivors.  There, I met Idit Yapo, an amazing woman of 104, clear and lucid.  Idit fled Germany shortly after Hitler gained power, in 1934.

I met 89-year-old Esther Nadiv, one of Mendele’s twins.  She was reading a book, Golda Meir’s biography, and she told me, with a glint in her eye, she said:  “I am so proud, so very proud to be a part of the State of Israel which is in constant development.”

I met Hanoch Mandelbaum, an 89-year-old survivor of Bergen-Belsen.  Shortly after he came to Israel, as a young carpenter, he helped construct the desk upon which Ben Gurion signed the Declaration of Independence.  That is MiSho’a liTkuma – from holocaust to resurrection.

And I met Elisheva Lehman, an 88 year-old Holocaust survivor from Holland, who was a music teacher.

I asked Elisheva if she would play something for us and she did.  She enthusiastically played “Am Yisrael Chai” and we all sung together.  It was quite emotional.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Am Yisrael Chai [The nation of Israel lives]

Our enemies tried to bury the Jewish future, but it was reborn in the land of our forefathers.  Here, we built a foundation for a new beginning of freedom, hope, and creation.  Year after year, decade after decade, we built the foundations of our country, and we will continue to yearly strengthen the pillars of our national life.

On this day, when our entire nation gathers together to remember the horrors of the Holocaust and the six million Jews who were murdered, we must fulfill our most sacred obligation.

This obligation is not merely an obligation to remember the past.  It is an obligation to learn its lessons, and, most importantly, to apply them to the present in order to secure the future of our people.  We must remember the past and secure the future by applying the lessons of the past.

This is especially true for this generation – a generation that once again is faced with calls to annihilate the Jewish State.

One day, I hope that the State of Israel will enjoy peace with all the countries and all the peoples in our region.  One day, I hope that we will read about these calls to destroy the Jews only in history books and not in daily newspapers.

But that day has not yet come.

Today, the regime in Iran openly calls and determinedly works for our destruction.  And it is feverishly working to develop atomic weapons to achieve that goal.

I know that there are those who do not like when I speak such uncomfortable truths.  They prefer that we not speak of a nuclear Iran as an existential threat.  They say that such language, even if true, only sows fear and panic.

I ask, have these people lost all faith in the people of Israel?

Do they think that this nation, which has overcome every danger, lacks the strength to confront this new threat?

Did the State of Israel not triumph over existential threats when it was far less powerful than it is today?  Did its leaders have any qualms about saying the truth?

David Ben Gurion told the people of Israel the truth about the existential dangers they faced in 1948 when five Arab armies tried to snuff Israel out in its cradle.

Levi Eshkol told the people of Israel the truth in 1967 when a noose was being placed around Israel’s neck and we stood alone to face our fate.

And when they heard these truths, did the people of Israel panic or did they unite to thwart the dangers?  Were we paralyzed with fear or did we do what was necessary to protect ourselves.

I believe in the people of Israel – and this belief is based on our experiences.  I believe that the people of Israel can handle the truth.  And I believe that they we have the capability to defeat those who seek to harm us.

Those who dismiss Iran’s threats as exaggerated or as mere idle posturing have learned nothing from the Holocaust.  But we should not be surprised.

There have always been those among us who prefer to mock those who tell uncomfortable truths than squarely face the truth themselves.

That is how Zev Jabotinsky was received when he warned the Jews of Poland of the looming Holocaust.

This is what he said in 1938, in Warsaw:

“It is already THREE years that I am calling upon you, Polish Jewry, who are the crown of World Jewry.  I continue to warn you incessantly that a catastrophe is coming closer.  I became grey and old in these years, my heart bleeds, that you, dear brother and sisters, do not see the volcano which will soon begin to spit its all-consuming lava…  I see that you are not seeing this because you are immersed and sunk in your daily worries…  Listen to me in this twelfth hour:  In the name of G-d!  Let anyone of you save himself, as long as there is still time, and time there is very little.”

But the leading Jewish intellectuals of the day ridiculed Jabotinsky, and rather than heed his warning, they attacked him.

This is what Sholem Asch, one of our nation’s greatest writers, said about him:
“What Jabotinsky is now doing in Poland is going too far.  His statement is detrimental to Zionism and to the vital interests of our people… It is disgraceful that these are leaders of a nation.”

I know there are also those who believe that the unique evil of the Holocaust should never be invoked in discussing other threats facing the Jewish people.

To do so, they argue, is to belittle the Holocaust and to offend its victims.

I totally disagree.  On the contrary.  To cower from speaking the uncomfortable truth – that today like then, there are those who want to destroy millions of Jewish people – that is to belittle the Holocaust, that is to offend its victims and that is to ignore the lessons.

Not only does the Prime Minister of Israel have the right, when speaking of these existential dangers, to invoke the memory of a third of our nation which was annihilated.  It is his duty.

There is a memorable scene in Claude Lanzmann’s documentary Shoah that explains this obligation more than anything.

In the harsh existence in the Warsaw Ghetto, Leon Feiner of the Bund and Menachem Kirschenbaum of the General Zionists met with Jan Karski from the Polish World War II Resistance Movement.

Jan Karski was a decent, sensitive man, and they begged him to appeal to the conscience of the world against the Nazi crimes.  They described what was happening, they showed him, but to no avail.

They said: “Help us.  We have no country of our own, we have no government, and we even have no voice among the nations”

They were right.

Seventy years ago the Jewish people did not have the national capacity to summon the nations, nor the military might to defend itself.

But today things are different.

Today we have an army.

We have the ability, the duty and the determination to defend ourselves.

As Prime Minister of Israel, I will never shy from speaking the truth before the world, no matter how uncomfortable it may seem to some.

I speak the truth at the United Nations; I speak the truth in Washington DC, the capital of our great friend, the United States, and in other important capitals; And I speak the truth here in Jerusalem, on the grounds of Yad VaShem which are saturated with remembrance.

I will continue to speak the truth to the world, but first and foremost I must speak it to my own people. I know that my people is strong enough to hear the truth.

The truth is that a nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat of the State of Israel.

The truth is that a nuclear-armed Iran is an political threat to other countries throughout the region and a grave threat to the world peace.

The truth is that Iran must be stopped from obtaining nuclear weapons.

It is the duty of the whole world, but above and beyond, it is OUR duty.

The memory of the Holocaust goes beyond holding memorial services; it is not merely a historical recollection.

The memory of the Holocaust obligates us to apply the lessons of the past to ensure the basis of our future.

We will never bury our heads in the sand.

Am Yisrael Chai, veNetzach Yisrael Lo Yeshaker
[The Nation of Israel Lives, and the Eternal one of Israel does not Lie]

דברי ראש הממשלה בעצרת הפתיחה הממלכתית לציון יום הזיכרון לשואה ולגבורה

יום רביעי כ”ו ניסן תשע”ב

-הטקסט עבר התאמת עריכה-

על ההר הזה התרחש היום אסון כבד. כפי שאמר נשיאנו, איבדנו היום קצינה צעירה ומבטיחה, הילה בצלאלי זיכרונה לברכה, ואיבדנו חייל בהנדסה קרבית שליבו נדם. אנו שולחים את תנחומינו כאן למשפחות ואנחנו שולחים גם את איחולי ההחלמה, החלמה מהירה לפצועים.

מכובדי, נשיא המדינה שמעון פרס, יושב ראש הכנסת ראובן ריבלין, נשיא בית המשפט העליון השופט גרוניס, שרים, חברי כנסת, יושב ראש הנהלת יד ושם אבנר שלו, יושב ראש מועצת יד ושם הרב ישראל לאו, הרב הראשי לישראל הרב יונה מצגר, הרב הראשי לישראל, הראשון לציון, הרב שלמה עמאר. ראש עיריית ירושלים ניר ברקת, אנשי סגל א’ וזקן הסגל הדיפלומטי, שגריר קמרון בישראל. ניצולי שואה מהארץ ומן העולם, חסידי אומות העולם ומשפחותיהם. קציני וחיילי צה”ל, מפקדי ושוטרי משטרת ישראל, קהל נכבד.

אתמול בבוקר ביקרתי בבית אבות שבו מתגוררים ניצולי שואה. פגשתי שם את עידית יאפּוֹ, אישה מדהימה, היא בת 104, צלולה, חדה. עידית נמלטה מגרמניה זמן קצר אחרי שהיטלר עלה לשלטון ב-1934. פגשתי את אסתר נדיב, בת 89, אחת מתאומי מנגלה, במקרה הזה תאומות. עידית סיפרה לי בעיניים בורקות, תוך כדי שהיא קוראת ספר, ביוגרפיה של גולדה מאיר, היא אמרה ‘אני כל כך גאה, אני כל כך גאה להיות חלק מהמדינה שלנו, המדינה המתפתחת שלנו’. פגשתי שם את חנוך מנדלבאום, ניצול ברגן-בלזן, בן 89. זמן קצר אחרי שהוא הגיע לארץ, הוא עזר כנגר צעיר לבנות את השולחן שעליו חתם בן-גוריון על מגילת העצמאות. ממש משואה לתקומה. פגשתי גם את אלישבע להמן, ניצולת שואה בת 88 מהולנד, שהייתה מורה למוסיקה. שאלתי את אלישבע אם היא מוכנה להשמיע לנו קטע נגינה והיא נענתה ברצון, אפילו הייתי אומר בשקיקה. היא ניגנה. היא ניגנה “עם ישראל חי”, ואנחנו כולנו שרנו יחד בהתרגשות גדולה. גבירותיי ורבותיי, עם ישראל חי.

אויבינו ניסו לקבור את העתיד היהודי, אבל עתידנו נולד מחדש בארץ אבותינו. כאן בנינו בסיס להתחלה חדשה של חופש ותקווה ויצירה. שנה אחרי שנה, עשור אחר עשור, יצקנו וביססנו את יסודות מדינתנו, ונמשיך לחזק מדי שנה את עמודי התווך של חיינו הלאומיים.

ביום הזה, היום שבו העם כולו מתכנס יחד כדי לזכור את מוראות השואה ואת ששת המיליונים מבני עמנו שנרצחו בה, עלינו לממש חובה עליונה. והחובה זו איננה רק לזכור את העבר, אלא גם ללמוד את לקחיו, והחשוב ביותר – ליישם לקחים אלה, וזאת כדי להמשיך ולהבטיח את עתיד עמנו.
זה כתוב פה מאחוריי, זוכרים את העבר, מבטיחים את העתיד, על ידי יישום לקחי העבר. והדבר זה נכון במיוחד לדורנו שעומד שוב בפני הקריאה להשמיד את מדינת היהודים.

ידידיי, אני מקווה שיום אחד מדינת ישראל תחיה בשלום עם כל העמים וכל המדינות באזורנו. אני מקווה שיבוא יום שבו נלמד על הקריאות להשמדת ישראל בשיעורי ההיסטוריה בלבד ונפסיק לשמוע אותן בתקשורת היומיומית. אבל היום הזה טרם הגיע. כיום קורא ופועל המשטר האיראני בגלוי ובנחרצות להשמדתנו. והוא פועל בקדחתנות לפתח נשק גרעיני כדי להשיג מטרה זו. עכשיו, אני יודע שישנם אלה שאינם אוהבים שאני אומר אמיתות לא נוחות מסוג זה. הם מעדיפים שלא נדבר על איראן גרעינית כאיום קיומי. הם טוענים שאמירה כזאת, גם אם היא נכונה, רק זורעת פחד ובהלה.

אני שואל, האם האנשים האלה איבדו כל אמון בעם ישראל? האם הם באמת חושבים שלעם הזה, שהתגבר על כל סכנה, אין מספיק כוחות כדי להתמודד עם סכנה חדשה זו? הרי מדינת ישראל התמודדה בהצלחה מול סכנת קִיוּמִיוּת כשהייתה לאין ערוך פחות חזקה ממה שהיא היום, ואני חייב להגיד שמנהיגיה לא היססו לומר לעם את האמת. דוד בן-גוריון אמר לעם את האמת לגבי הסכנה הקיומית שעמדה בפנינו. הוא אמר את זה ב-1948, כשחמשת צִבְאוֹת-ערב ניסו להשמיד את מדינת ישראל שזה עתה נולדה. לוי אשכול אמר לעם את האמת ב- 1967, כשעניבת החנק הלכה והתהדקה סביב צווארה של ישראל, ועמדנו לבד לגורלנו. וכשהעם שמע את האמת, האם הוא נתקף בבהלה, או שהוא התאחד כדי להדוף את הסכנה? האם הפחד שיתק אותנו, או שעשינו את מה שהיה נחוץ כדי להגן על עצמנו?

אני מאמין בעם ישראל, והאמונה שלי איננה אמונת סתם, היא  מבוססת על ניסיון חיינו. אני מאמין בכוחו של עם ישראל להתמודד עם האמת. אני מאמין בכוחנו להגן על עצמנו מול מבקשי נפשנו. אנשים שמבטלים את האיום האיראני כגחמה או כהגזמה לא למדו דבר מהשואה. אין זה חדש. תמיד היו אנשים בקרבנו שהעדיפו ללגלג על אלו שאומרים אמיתות לא נוחות, מאשר להתמודד עם האמת כפי שהיא. כך נהגו כלפי ז’בוטינסקי, כשהזהיר את יהודי פולין מפני השואה המתקרבת.

הנה מה שהוא אמר ב-1938 בוורשה:
“מזה שלוש שנים אני פונה אליכם, יהודי פולין, בקריאה. אני מזהיר אתכם בלא הפוגה”, כך אמר, “שהקטסטרופה מתקרבת. שערותיי הלבינו וזקנתי בשנים אלו, כי ליבי שותת דם על שאתם, אחים ואחיות יקרים, אינכם רואים את הר הגעש שיתחיל תכף לפלוט את אש ההשמדה. אני רואה מראה איום. הזמן קצר בו אפשר עוד להינצל. אני יודע: אינכם רואים,
כי אתם טרודים ובהולים בדאגות היום-יום. האזינו לדבריי, למען השם. הזמן קצר”.

הוגי דעות מובילים בקרב עמנו באותה העת זלזלו בדברים הללו של ז’בוטינסקי, ובמקום להקשיב לאזהרתו הם תקפו אותו. הנה מה שאמר עלי אז אחד הסופרים המוכשרים של עמנו: “מה שז’בוטינסקי עושה עתה בפולין עובר כל גבול. הודעתו מזיקה לציונות ולאינטרסים החיוניים של עמנו. אוי לאומה שאלה הם מנהיגיה”.

אני יודע שישנם אנשים שמאמינים שאסור להזכיר את הרוע הייחודי של השואה כשמדברים על האיומים העכשוויים שעומדים בפני העם היהודי. הם טוענים שלעשות זאת משמעו לזלזל בשואה ולהעליב את קורבנותיה. אני שולל לחלוטין גישה זו. להיפך, להירתע מלומר את האמת – שהיום כמו אז ישנם אלה שרוצים להשמיד מיליוני יהודים – זה זלזול בשואה, זה עלבון לקורבנותיה, זו התעלמות מלקחיה. לראש ממשלת ישראל לא רק מותר להעלות את זכר השמדת שליש מעמנו כשהוא מדבר על סכנות קיומיות לעמנו, זוהי חובתו.

יש קטע בלתי נשכח בסרט הדוקומנטרי של קלוד לאנצמן – “שואה”, שמבהיר את הסיבה לחובה הזו יותר מכל. בימים הקשים של גטו ורשה, נפגשו ליאון פיינר מהבונד ומנחם קירשנבוים מהציונים הכללים עם נציג המחתרת הפולנית, יאן קארסקי. קארסקי היה איש הגון, איש רגיש. הם התחננו בפניו שיזעיק את מצפון העולם נגד הפשעים הנאצים. הוא תיארו לו, הראו לו את הדברים הנוראים, אך ללא הועיל. והם אמרו לו: עזור לנו, אין לנו מדינה שלנו, אין לנו ממשלה, אין לנו אפילו קול בין העמים. והם צדקו. לפני שבעים שנה לא הייתה לעם היהודי לא היכולת המדינית להזעיק את האומות ולא היכולת הצבאית להגן על עצמו. אבל היום ברוך השם המציאות שונה. היום יש לנו מדינה, היום יש לנו צבא. יש לנו היכולת, החובה והנחישות להגן על עצמנו.

כראש ממשלת ישראל לעולם לא אירתע מלומר את האמת לאומות, גם כשאמת זאת איננה נוחה. אני אומר את האמת באו”ם, אני אומר את האמת בוושינגטון, בירת ידידתנו הגדולה ארצות הברית, וגם בבירות חשובות אחרות, ואני אומר את האמת כאן בירושלים, על האדמה רווית הזיכרון של יד ושם. ואמשיך לומר את האמת לעולם, אבל בראש ובראשונה לעמי, שאני יודע שהוא חזק דיו כדי לשמוע את האמת. האמת היא שאיראן חמושה בנשק גרעיני, היא איום קיומי על מדינת ישראל. האמת היא שאיראן גרעינית מהווה איום מדיני גם על מדינות אחרות באזור ואיום חמור על השלום העולמי. והאמת היא שחובה למנוע מאיראן להשיג נשק גרעיני. זוהי חובתו של העולם, אבל מעל לכל זוהי חובתנו.

זיכרון השואה איננו רק עניין טקסי, זה איננו רק עניין של זיכרון היסטורי. זיכרון השואה הוא ציווי מעשי להפיק את לקחי העבר, כדי להבטיח את אושיות העתיד. לעולם לא נטמון את ראשנו בחול. עם ישראל חי. ונצח ישראל לא ישקר.

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

ISRAEL BRIEF

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.

Full Text Israel Political Brief April 18, 2012: President Shimon Peres’ Speech at Har Herzl on the occasion of Yom Hashoah

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Address of President Shimon Peres at Har Herzl on the occasion of Yom Hashoah

Source: Israel Embassy US, 4-18-12

“On my way here, the glowing lights of Jerusalem were suddenly replaced by the sparks of fire which once consumed my people. This is us. This is our people, a people of illumination, an orphan people. This is us. Holocaust survivors, builders of resurgence, my brothers and sisters, tonight our tearing eyes turn to those who are not here with us, and our wide opened eyes gaze upon the yet to come.

During the holidays I travelled all over the country. Blue skies, blooming fields, lovely children, hard-working people. I wondered about the communities they originated from which are no longer. For a moment, I replaced Tel Aviv with Vilna, Haifa with Bialystok, Dgania, Nahalal, Beer-Sheva with Plonsk, Riga, Odessa.

 

Not a single Jew remains there.

The furnaces of the Nazi dictator and his emissaries brought calamity to the world and a holocaust onto my people.

Holocaust deniers negate the deeds of their predecessors so as to cover their own crimes.

The falsehood of negation will not extinguish the fire of the inferno.

The piles of tortured bodies, the wounded thrown into the ditches of death, the furnaces burning the living. These are our witnesses for ever.

The last breath of the infants in their mothers’ arms will continue to horrify all human beings, until the end of time.

I was born in Wieszniev. Half of the townspeople came to Israel. The other half perished.

After the war, I learned that on Sunday August 30th, a dark dawn had come upon my hometown. The Nazis who had seized it ordered the Jews to pack their belongings and present themselves at their doorsteps.

The SS officers passed by striking them and told them to proceed towards the synagogue.

One of them cried out “Jews, save yourselves!” The Germans shot down those who tried to escape. The rest reached the synagogue which was made of wood. The doors were locked. All were burned alive.

That was the last day of Rabbi Zvi Meltzer, my grandfather, my mentor. He was consumed by fire with his Tallit on his head.

That was the last Jewish day in Wieszniev.

Not even a single Jew remained alive.

I visited Wieszniev after the war. Not a Jewish mark remains. Not a house, not a synagogue, not a school, not a cemetery, only a heap of stones.

As I stood there, the last Kol Nidrei prayer emitted by my grandfather’s sweet voice rang in my ears.

My lips murmured the Kadish.

Tonight many holocaust survivors are present, along with the children of those villages who built the new Israel.

The Nazis created industries of death, assembly lines of murder, choking gas plants.

No such thing has ever happened in history.

So organized, so systematic, so inhumane.

It happened in Europe, the epitome of enlightenment. It originated in Germany which claimed to be the spearhead in culture. But it was all vain.

The Jews in Germany improved its culture, elevated its scientific level, enriched its economy , like all of Europe’s’ Jewry.

Why did Hitler identify them as his greatest enemy?

The answer is clear- the moral strength of the Jews was more dangerous to him than the military menace of his neighbors.

The Nazis feared that the Jewish conviction that all men are born in the image of God would damage the fascist lie according to which there is a superior race.

They feared the prophetic vision may dent the Nazi sword.

I am proud to be an arch enemy to the Nazi evil.

I am proud of our fathers’ legacy being absolutely opposed to racism.

I am proud of our belief that there is no one Man superior to another Man.

There is no superior race, only deep roots.

I am certain that this is how our children and grandchildren will be brought up; as the Kadish is on their lips, “Love your neighbor as yourself” is in their hearts.

My friends, a million and a half Israeli citizens are not Jewish.

We are obligated to make sure that none of them are ever discriminated because of their nationality or religion. This is the essence of the existence of the State of Israel. Israel is a defense shield, a safe haven and a great spirit. Had the State of Israel existed during those days, I am convinced that things would have been different. We have paid a high price but we have not lost faith.

We have gathered unusual capacities which emerged from the depths of the Holocaust and from the peaks of our legacy. We have a commitment towards the betterment of the world and respect for humanity.

The strengths of our nation is concealed in its history and contained in the souls of its sons. We used to be a question mark, now we are a strong country. Today humanity has no choice, we must learn from the lessons of the Holocaust and stand strong against existential threats before it is too late.

Iran is at the heart of this threat. She is the center of terror, she represents a threat to world peace.

There is no reason to undermine Israel’s capacities to face this threat, whether visible or hidden.

We have engendered a young generation with wide shoulders to carry the load. They are more than capable of leading Israel to its historic destiny following the Ten Commandments, Yavneh and its Sages, and Isaiah’s prophecy.

We will say Kadish in memory of our brothers, sisters, parents and children who were killed in martyrdom. And we will ensure our children remain Jewish, body and soul, as they carry the load of Israel’s security and the peace of the Jewish Nation is on their shoulders.

We came today to say Kadish in memory of our beloved ones who were killed in the Holocaust. We came to say and to swear “Never again”. We came to say that we are a peaceful people who can defend itself.

We can and we will.

We have built and we shall build.

We will always remember our 6 million brothers who perished in the Holocaust.

In one week we will raise the flags of Israel’s Independence which rose for the first time 64 years ago. Today, it is clear that the reality we have built is the vision we once dreamed. We will proudly wave the flags of the future of Israel, as an independent, moral, creative and contributing state. Let us wave the flags of peace, security and brotherhood. “

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

ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF

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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