Peres said, "The Holocaust does not permit us as a Jewish people to shut our eyes and must serve as a constant warning sign to all of humanity. The map of Europe still contains anti-Semitic stains. To our shame there are still those who have learned nothing.
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"There are still Holocaust deniers. Crises are again being exploited to establish ridiculous but dangerous Nazi parties. Sickening anti-Semitic cartoons are still being published. The quest for justice and freedom has not ended."
The president continued, "The enlightened world must ask itself how is it that so soon after the crematoriums' fire was extinguished, after the terrible cost the Allied Forces paid to subdue the Nazi devil, there can still be an Iranian leadership that denies the Holocaust and threatens a with another Holocaust.
Peres at Yad Vashem (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"Whoever ignores a threat of Holocaust directed at one people must know that such a threat at another is the same as a threat against all peoples."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also spoke at the ceremony. "Lately we have witnessed shocking manifestations of violence against the elderly, including Holocaust survivors. There is nothing that contradicts the Jewish heritage and basic human morals more. We shall not tolerate it."
Lighting the torches (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
He further added, "Holocaust survivors are the symbol of revival. They deserve to live the rest of their days in peace, security and dignity. "
Addressing the Iranian threat, he said: "There are those who wish to extinguish our light. Iran openly declares its intent to destroy Israel and is pursuing all means to achieve that goal." Netanyahu quoted Iranian clerics as saying that "Zionists are microbes and bacteria. The Jews are filthy people who spread disease."
Netanyahu at Yad Vashem (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"It was not said only then, it is being said today. Iran's ruler today says that 'Israel is a cancerous tumor that must be removed from the Middle East.' The murderous hatred that follows our people's history has not vanished but replaced by a hatred against the Jewish state. What has changed since the Holocaust is our determination and ability to defend ourselves."
"We appreciate the international community's efforts to stop Iran's nuclear program but at no point will we place our fate in the hands of others, not even in the hands of our greatest friends."
Livni at Massuah Institute ceremony (Photo: Ido Erez)
A special ceremony was also held at the Massuah Institute for Holocaust Studies dedicated to mark 70 years to the Warsaw ghetto uprising. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni spoke at the ceremony and concluded her speech on a personal note.
"Many times I ask myself what I would have done had I been there. Would I have been the one to leave the ghetto to bring food? When I became a mother I asked myself, would I have thrown my children off the train? Would I have had the guts to do that? Or would I have taken them with me. And what would happen if I was forced to choose between the two?
Soldiers at Massuah Institute ceremony (Photo: Ido Erez)
Former Supreme Court President Justice Dorit Beinish (Photo: Dorit Beinish)
"I ask myself, would I have seen the signs in time to call out 'let’s leave' or 'let's fight.' Honestly, I don’t know the answer, but I do know that it is our job to look to the future and detect both dangerous and opportunities."
Earlier on Sunday, a special IDF delegation headed by Chief of Staff Benny Gantz arrived in Poland. "In a cold and clear day, one can't understand or bridge the gap between the surrounding quiet and the horror that took place around the camp's sheds," Gantz said at a ceremony in the Auschwitz death camp.
Photo: Ido Erez
Gantz added that "The State of Israel is the safeguard against the recurrence of this horror, and the IDF is the wall around the national home, the haven for the Jewish people."
On Monday, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israelis across the country will observe a moment of silence in memory of the six million Jews who were slaughtered by the Nazis and their helpers. A ceremony will then be held at Yad Vashem. An hour later, the names of the Holocaust victims will be read at the Knesset plenum, as in every year.
In Poland, the March of the Living will kick off at 2:30 pm and three hours later a ceremony will be held at the Birkenau death camp.
Boaz Fyler contributed to this report
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