This morning at 10:00 a.m., in Israel, all activity came to a halt as sirens sounded, and Israelis stood for two minutes with heads bowed in memory of the 6 million Jews, one third of the Jewish people, who perished in the Holocaust. Yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at Yad Vashem in recognition of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Here are excerpts from his remarks:
Seventy years ago, the bells of freedom rang in the free world. The horrific nightmare that had engulfed all humanity in the depths of 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 a day of great sorrow for our nation, but also a day of reflection for world 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 tendency for aggression. And if this aggression is not stopped in time, humanity might find itself in a much bloodier battle....
When the war ended, the conclusion was clear: there is no room for weakness when facing tyrannous regimes who 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 mankind.
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 expansion intentions of a violent tyranny.” They promise: “We will oppose evil things as soon as they begin.” But as long as these announcements are not backed with 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, evermore threats challenge the human civilization. Radical Islamic 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.
Just as the Nazis aspired to crush civilization and to establish a “master race” to replace it in controlling 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 directions: the first is developing the ability to arm itself with nuclear weapons and accumulate a stockpile of ballistic missiles; and the second – exporting the Khomeinist revolution to many countries by heavily 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 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 in 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, and even allowing it to expand them later on, regardless of Iran’s actions in the Middle East and around the world....
Distinguished guests, Israeli citizens and representatives of other countries who are with us, 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, is the foundation for the partnership in forging 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 have closed.
If you ignore the cringe-worthy opening line of this article from the Pew Research Center – the Holocaust did far worse than “decimate” Europe’s Jewish population – you will find some interesting facts. In a nutshell, Europe’s Jewish population continues to decline. There are now approximately 1.4 million Jews living in Europe, compared to 9.5 million in 1939. Only 10 percent of the world’s Jews now live in Europe, and a mere 0.2 percent of Europeans are Jewish.
At an event today at Tufts University in Massachusetts, Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren said it was "fair" when an activist compared Israel’s actions in Gaza to the Holocaust.
“Eva Moseley, I’m not a student, I’m not an alumnae, but was in faculty life. I was also a Holocaust refugee and I’m extremely concerned that Jews don’t do to another people what was done to them,” said the activist.
In an unaired portion of an interview with NBC correspondent Ann Curry, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani did not refute his predecessor's claim that the Holocaust perpetrated by Nazi Germany was a "myth."
"President [Mahmoud] Ahmadeinejad said that the Holocaust is a myth," said Curry, wearing a head scarf. "Do you agree?"
It now seems that one Jew is worth more than 1,000 Arabs—the rate of exchange established not by Israel, but by Hamas, and celebrated on the Arab street. The “prisoner swap” of more than a thousand Arab prisoners for the single Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, kidnapped five years ago and held in captivity for just this purpose, represents a gap between two civilizations that has been widening for over six decades with no signs of contraction in sight.
The widespread condemnation Europeans have expressed toward Israel after its commandos boarded the so-called peace flotilla on May 31 - and used force only when threatened with death - signals a desire to turn every Israeli action of self-defense into absolution for the crimes of the Holocaust.