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Netanyahu: ‘Am Yisrael Chai’

11:29 AM, Apr 19, 2012 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
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Here's the text of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's powerful Holocaust Remembrance Day speech to his countrymen. Worth reading.

[Translation

April 19, 2012

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Speech at Holocaust Remembrance Day

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 fromHolland, 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.

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