image Photo: Flash90

Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day

Jerusalem leaders reassert that the Jewish People will “Never Again” be helpless in the face of annihilation. 

By Jonathan Hessen and Erin Viner

The Jewish State today observed the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Remembrance Day, known as Yom HaShoah (Hebrew for the Day of Catastrophe), to commemorate the six million Jewish victims of the deaths of six million Jews in Europe by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during the Second World War.

Speaking at the main state ceremony broadcasted live from the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem in the presence of the President of the State of Israel Isaac Herzog, dignitaries including German Bundestag President Bärbel Bas and Holocaust survivors, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett rejected recent attempts to compare the atrocities of the Holocaust to contemporary incidents.

“The Holocaust is an unprecedented event in human history. I take the trouble to say this because as the years go by, there is more and more discourse in the world that compares other difficult events to the Holocaust – but no,” said the Israeli leader, at the start of hundreds of similar events nationwide and abroad.

“Even the most difficult wars today are not the Holocaust and are not comparable to the Holocaust,” he stressed, adding that, “No event in history, cruel as it may have been, is comparable to the Holocaust – the extermination of Europe’s Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators. Unfortunately, history is full of cruel wars, brutal murders and also genocide. But it is usually a means designed to achieve a goal, some sort of expectation – military, political, economic, religious. The case of the extermination of the Jews is different. Never, in any place or during any time, has one people acted to destroy another in such a planned, systematic and indifferent way, from a place of absolute ideology and not out of utilitarianism. The Nazis did not kill Jews to take their jobs or their homes. The Nazis sought to hunt all Jews and exterminate every last one of them. A Jew in the Holocaust had no way of escape. No way to surrender, nowhere to be expelled to, no way of escape by conversion or change of behavior. Nothing. Because the extermination was carried out based on if you were a Jew, regardless of your actions.”

Prime Minister Bennett went on to highlight that the victory over the Holocaust that included the re-establishment of the state of the Jewish People in their ancestral homeland of Israel.

“The Jewish presence in the Land of Israel began nearly 4,000 years ago, and our every activity here in the State of Israel is an act of building and strengthening our land. Every home that we build, every baby that is born, every company that is established, every step that we take alongside our country’s streams, every song written, every act of kindness made between a person and his friend is another brick in this magnificent building that is called the State of Israel. Building the State of Israel, the Jewish state in the Land of Israel, is in fact our victory over those who sought to wipe us out,” he said.

At at a separate Holocaust memorial event, Defense Minister Benny Gantz drew attention to the iconic photograph of a Jewish child forced to surrender to Nazi troops an historic reminder of the necessity to ensure a state in which Jews are protected from those seeking their genocide as a fundamental cornerstone of Zionist ideology.

“Not in vain, in the Jewish national memory, and in the memory of many human beings worldwide, is engraved the image of the Jewish boy from Warsaw ghetto, raising his hands, with Nazi soldiers behind and in front of him. Those children, who managed to survive the inferno and reach Israel – chose life,” said Gantz, who is the son of Holocaust survivors from Romania.

“Those of them who were already mature enough, enlisted in the IDF and fought in [Israel’s 1948] War of Independence,” he said of those who managed to survive WWII, adding that, “Many of them did not hesitate and many came straight from concentration camps, put on their uniforms and took up arms for the purpose of establishing here a Jewish state.”

Citing the late Israeli political and military leader Yigal Alon, Gantz quoted, “’They strengthened the ranks of the dwindling units, shoulder-to-shoulder together with the Sabras (those born in Israel, they manned the campaign and many of them fell and paid the price of victory.’ They, you – are the heroes to whom we thank for having a state, security and hope.”

Jerusalem’s top defense official further asserted the necessity for Israel to preserve its qualitative military edge (QME) in the region in unrelenting commitment to the phrase “never again.”

“During Holocaust Remembrance Day speeches we frequently mention ongoing security threats to Israel particularly from Iran, which seeks to acquire nuclear weapons as an existential threat to us. Indeed, the State of Israel must have military power and it must also have moral power alongside it. We must be strong, to know how to defend ourselves by ourselves – this is an important lesson of the Jewish people for generations,” he emphasized.