Israelis commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day; Netanyahu speaks of nuclear Iran as threat to Jewish Nation; Peres calls on international awareness of anti-Semitism; March of the Living held in Poland
Youth groups from March of the Living 2014 (Ofer Aderet, AP)
Israelis commemorated Israel’s national Holocaust Remembrance Day Monday, in memory of the over 6 millions Jews killed during the Holocaust. The commemoration began Sunday night at a state ceremony held each year at Yad VaShem, Israel’s Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.
Two minutes of silence were given at 10 am through out the entire state of Israel, each year sirens heard through out Israel, its population pausing and standing in silence. Ceremonies as well as educational programs are held through out the day in remembrance of the Holocaust.
Prime Minister Netanyahu who spoke at the Yad Va’Shem ceremony focused his speech on the strength of the Jewish people, failure of its enemies, growing anti-Semitism and current threats against Israel, specifically nuclear Iran.
Netanyahu stated, “On this day, on behalf of the Jewish people, I say to all those who sought to destroy us, to all those who still seek to destroy us- you have failed and you will fail… today, we are again facing clear facts and a tangible threat. Iran is calling for our destruction. It is developing nuclear weapons. This is the reason it is building underground bunkers for the enrichment of uranium. This is the reason it is establishing a plutonium-producing heavy-water facility. This is the reason it continues to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads to threaten the entire world.”
He addressed Iran’s diplomatic attempts at “seeking an agreement that will lift the sanctions and leave it as a nuclear threshold” warning that “Today, just like then, there are those who dismiss Iran’s extreme rhetoric as one that serves domestic purposes. Today, just 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 just like then, those who make such claims are deluding themselves. They are making an historic mistake.”
The Prime Minister finished his speech stating, “We have a sovereign Jewish state unlike our situation during the Holocaust, when we were like leaves in the wind, defenseless, now we 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 our security forces. It is this power that enabled us, against all odds, to build the State of Israel.”
Shimon Peres addressed the rise of anti-Semitism worldwide, and the importance of combatting it stating, “We must not ignore any occurrence of anti-Semitism, any desecration of a synagogue, any tombstone smashed in a cemetery in which our families are buried. We must not ignore the rise of extreme right-wing parties with neo-Nazi tendencies who are a danger to each of us and a threat to every nation.”
Over 12,000 participated in March of the Living in Poland Monday, a 3-kilometer walk from Auschwitz to Birkenau. The annual march is attended by both non-Jewish and Jewish communities from around the globe, majority Jewish youth communities from the Diaspora. Each year Israel sends several delegations to the march, from its police forces to an IDF delegation.
The March of the Living’s Chairman Shmuel Rosenman stated on the importance of the march that it “imparts the lessons of the Holocaust, celebrates the history of Jewish survival and instills a passion for social justice… Instead of learning just from books, the literal facts on the ground become their laboratory.”
Several world leaders attend the march, this year Hungarian President Janos Ader giving a speech to honor the victims of the Holocaust. This year marking 70 years since the Nazis take over of Hungary in 1944 which led to the extermination of over half a million Jews in a six months period of time.