As the nation gathers on Monday to mourn those who perished during the Holocaust, the State of Israel held its official Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum Sunday night, signaling the start of remembrance period.
Attended by Israeli leaders, foreign dignitaries, Holocaust survivors and their families, those gathered at Yad Vashem remembered the 6 million Jews innocently slaughtered by the hands of the Nazi’s. Six Holocaust survivors lit torches at the ceremony, one for each million killed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres spoke at the ceremony. The prime minister said that the world failed to act when it came to saving the Jews and taking the Nazi threat seriously. He criticized world leaders before and during the Holocaust who “refused to accept reality” and “dismissed the murderous Nazi rhetoric.”
“How is it possible that so many people failed to understand the reality? The bitter and tragic truth is this: it is not that they did not see it. They did not want to see it. And why did they choose not to see the truth? Because they did not want to face the consequences of that truth,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu went on to parallel current political tensions with Iran with lessons learned from the Holocaust. He questioned whether the world had learned from history and “mistakes of the past.”
“Today we are facing real threats and immediate dangers,” he said. “I call on the world power to insist that Iran completely give up its abilities to make nuclear weapons.”
“Today, just like then, there are those who dismiss Iran’s extreme rhetoric as one that serves domestic purposes,” Netanyahu pointed out. “And just like then, those who make such claims are deluding themselves. They are making a historic mistake.”
He added that Israel would not stand idly by and would act need be. “The people of Israel are strong,” Netanyahu said. The prime minister addressed those who mock him for speaking “the truth to the world.”
“I do not hesitate to speak the truth to the world, even when faced with so many blind eyes and deaf ears. It is not only my right, it is my duty. It is a duty I am mindful of at all times, but particularly on this day, in this place,” he said.
The prime minister said Israel would not stand silent and would cry out to the nations of the world to bring forth the truth, however uncomfortable it may be.
“Today, we are not afraid to speak the truth to world leaders, as is written in our Bible: ‘I will speak of your testimonies before kings, and I will not be ashamed…listen, for I will speak noble thoughts; the opening of my lips will reveal right things.’”
With the power of one of the world’s strongest armies belonging to the Jewish state, Netanyahu vowed that the Jewish nation would never experience another Holocaust.
“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.”
Editor: To read the full, translated text of Netanyahu’s speech, click here.