President Shimon Peres delivered a historic speech to members of the German parliament in Berlin on Wednesday afternoon on the occasion of International Holocaust Day, 65 years after the end of World War II.
"No more ignoring blood-thirsty dictators hiding behind masks of demagogy and voicing slogans of murder. They are a threat to the entire world," Peres stressed.
The German parliament heard a translation of the speech, which was carried out in Hebrew. Peres said the Kadish prayer in honor of the Holocaust victims, which include his grandparents, who were burned alive in their town's synagogue.
"In the State of Israel and across the world, Holocaust survivors are slowly retiring from the world of the living. Their number is reduced every day. At the same time, those who were involved in the most despicable work on earth – genocide – are still living on German soil. Please do all you can to bring them to justice," Peres said.
Addressing German parliament and saying Kadish (photo courtesy of Channel 1)
The president referred to his memories from his hometown of Belarus when it was conquered by the Nazis, as well as to his grandfather's image, which has left a great mark on him to this very day. He went on to speak about the establishment of the State of Israel, saying that if the "delay in its establishment" had been prevented, the Holocaust could have been prevented as well.
"As an Israeli, I lament the tragic delay in the establishment of the Jewish state, which left my people without a haven of rest. I cannot accept the loss of a million and a half children – the biggest human and creative potential which could have changed Israel's fate. I am proud about Israel's revival, which is the moral and historic response to the attempt to wipe the Jewish people off the face of the earth," the president said.
Peres went on to direct his words at Iran. "We are now left with the crucial lesson: Never again. No more racist doctrine, no more feelings of superiority, no more so-called divine authority to incite, murder, break the law, deny God and the Shoah."
Peres added, "The threats to destroy a people and a state are being made on the backdrop of a development of mass destruction weapons by unreasonable hands, with an insane mind, without speaking the truth."
The president stressed that "in order to prevent another Holocaust we must have peaceful relations with other nations and have respect for the particular culture and universal values, in order to reprint the Ten Commandments once and again."
'Victories have no ended dangers'
Peres went on to address the difficulties Israel has been forced to deal with since its establishment, following the war launched by Arab states. "The IDF won this despaired battle, when historic justice and human courage came together.
"But the victories did not end Israel's dangers. We paid a price in wars, we were did not hesitate when forced to pay a price for peace. Today too, we are willing to give up territories in order to reach peace with the Palestinians, who will build their own independent, prosperous and peace-seeking state."
According to the president, "Like our neighbors, we also identify with the millions of Iranians rising up against dictatorship and violence. Like them, we are against a fanatic regime, which contradicts the UN Charter. A regime threatening destruction, accompanied with nuclear reactors and missiles, and operating terror in its country and other countries."
Peres' speech was an inseparable part of the policy determined by the State of Israel's leadership attending ceremonies across the world. The main message was expected to be: "Hitler destroyed us then – (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad is threatening us today."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also scheduled to make a speech in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day in, during which he planned to say that "we must learn a lesson from the Holocaust" in a reference to the Iranian nuclear threat.
The ceremony at the Auschwitz death camp in Poland will be attended by Polish President Lech Kaczynski, the president of the European Parliament, and a party of MKs from Israel.
A candlelit march for the commemoration of the 65th anniversary of the liberation of the camp will also include a number of its survivors and liberators.