Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday compared between the Holocaust and current threats on Israel from Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah during a ceremony at the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem which launched Holocaust Remembrance Day events.
"We must not bury our heads in the sand and dismiss the threat with words of mockery," he said. "Has the world learned this lesson? I doubt it. Have we? I believe we have."
Addressing Israel's enemies, Netanyahu said: "The world should know that when the people of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces say never again - we mean every word."
Ceremony at Yad Vashem (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Netanyahu addressed the Iranian threat throughout his speech. "It seems the world finds it easier to talk of lessons of the past rather than project them on the present day and future. But we, members of the Jewish people, must not ignore the lessons of the Holocaust on days such as these. New enemies continue to emerge and as they deny the Holocaust and call for the annihilation of our people, Iran and its cohorts Hezbollah and Hamas openly call for the destruction of the Jewish state.
"All the world's cultured people, all those who say they have learned the lessons of the Holocaust, must unequivocally condemn those who call for the annihilation of the Jewish state. Iran is arming itself to fulfill this very end and the world has yet to stop it. The threat on our existence cannot be swept aside, it is facing us as well as mankind and must be stopped."
'Israel committed to being anti-racist'
President Shimon Peres said during the ceremony that Israel is committed to being the most anti-racist country in the world.
"We, members of the Jewish people, were victims of racism, persecution and discrimination but we never abandoned the obligation to honor every person, we were not blinded by darkness," he said. "Even in a dark world, we have aspired and continue to aspire to be a light unto the nations.
"We were alone, with no state of our own. The allied forces' bomber planes that flew over Auschwitz did not drop a single bomb on the mass murder facilities," he said.
'We were not blinded by darkness' (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"The Holocaust determined there is no replacement for a home of our own. There is no replacement for the Israel Defense Forces. Today we have an excellent army which the world has learned to respect. We have a democratic regime which knows how to defend itself and spread peace. That is our answer to the enemy, to any enemy."
Peres added: "Even after the Holocaust there remains a regime whose leaders are public Holocaust deniers and inciters. This should arouse horror with any person and shock any conscience.
"Iran's fanatic high echelon is a danger to the entire world, not just a threat on Israel. It poses a real danger to the fate of mankind. The world's nations have declared they will not tolerate a nuclear Iran. They are now being tested."
Six Holocaust survivors lighted torches at Yad Vashem as part of a ceremony under the banner "The Faces behind the documents, artifacts and photographs."
The torchlighters are: Simcha Applebaum, Chava Pressburger, Avraham Aviel, Dina Büchler-Chen, Andrei Călăraşu and Yona (Janek) Fuchs.
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