WASHINGTON - The UN commemorated on Monday the 69th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp, with honoraries such as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, and filmmaker Steven Spielberg speaking before the United Nations assembly.
In his speech, Prosor said: "The Jewish people have been tormented, exiled and persecuted like no other people in history – but we never gave up. In the ghettos and concentration camps, Jews established schools and synagogues. They celebrated holidays and weddings. They made music, sang and danced even as death loomed all around.
"The Jewish people survived because courageous men and women stood up for what was right and risked their own lives to save others," the ambassador added.
Addressing the remaining hold the Holocaust has on the Jewish State, Prosor said "From the ashes of the Holocaust and the depths of despair, the Jewish people returned to their ancient homeland; regained independence; built schools and hospitals; made the desert bloom; and built a strong and vibrant society.
Spielberg addresses UN (Photo: Reuters)
"The Jewish people want peace, but history has shown that we cannot rely on others to defend us. We are resilient and we are also realistic. It has been almost 70 years since the end of the Holocaust and the world is still plagued by prejudice and – even as we speak – anti-Semitism is being sponsored and spread by governments, teachers, and religious leaders."
Prosor urged "governments to take action by partnering with UN Information Centers to educate the next generation. In doing so, you will pay tribute to the victims of the Holocaust and take a stand against indifference."
The Israeli ambassador to the UN stressed that "The Holocaust wasn’t just a Jewish tragedy; it was a human tragedy. I look around the world today and still see children being taught that some human lives are worth less than others. And I still see men and women persecuted for what they look like, and how they worship, and who they love.
"The United Nations was borne from the bloodshed and brutality of World War Two to stand up for humanity. It is a responsibility that each of us carries every single day. Never again can evil be allowed to take root. Never again can silence prevail. Never again can indifference reign.
"The State of Israel
is the only guarantee that the future fate of the Jewish people will be held in our own hands. It is our hope for the future and the assurance of our survival for generations to come," the ambassador said.
Steven Spielberg, renowned film director who has been documenting survivors' testimonies, said at the UN: "Genocide is an evil, but, the greatest evil is when people who have been spared the horrors commit themselves to despair. We know despair and remembering are a choice. But we need to confront and act on what we learned."
"The despair of those who would otherwise act is evil's triumph," Spielberg said.
Earlier Monday, a delegation of 54 Israeli lawmakers travelled to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland on Monday for a special ceremony to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the 69th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp.