March of the Living Chairman Dr. Shmuel Rosenman told Ynet, "I have been March of the Living chairman for 20 years. The first march was in 1988, and since then I have felt that the desire to take part in the march is constantly rising.
"This year we even had to turn participants away, because 11 to 12 thousand people arrived, among them 3,500 who are not Jewish. There is an amazing feeling here. People have even come from Cuba and Peru."
He added that "The training of the next generation's witnesses (of the Holocaust) is important for two reasons: To preserve the memory of the Holocaust, not only among the Jewish people, and to prevent it from being denied by our enemies.
Israeli teens during march (Photo: AP)
"The Jewish and non-Jewish people in Poland today will become witnesses for the Holocaust victims and survivors, and they will not allow history to be covered over. The thousands of non-Jewish youths from Morocco, Turkey, Panama, Cuba, China, Japan, Canada, and the US are the answer to the president of Iran, who is the strongest Holocaust denier alive today."
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi spoke at a ceremony ending the march, and said: "We've learned our lesson, to take seriously the threats made by world leaders calling for the destruction of Israel. We will continue to fight, out of a sense of responsibility to exist as a people in this country. We will not be deterred by any danger."
On a mission
The largest march took place in 2005. Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon participated in the march along with 20,000 other people. This year's march is the second-largest.
"It feels like a mission," Rosenman said. "Each of the participants is passing the torch along to the next generation." He added that 5,500 non-Israeli youths plan to arrive in Israel after the march in order to participate in the Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel's Wars.
"Coming here was important to me, as a Jew and as a person. I march proudly beside thousands of my fellow Jews."