Photo: Amit Shabi
Prime Minister Netanyahu
Photo: Amit Shabi

Netanyahu: Europe not doing enough to fight anti-Semitism

Holocaust survivor Martha Weiss to represent Israel at UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, while US President Obama will attend ceremony at Israeli Embassy.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Tuesday that Europeans were not doing enough to combat anti-Semitism, in a statement on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.



Netanyahu warned that "in Europe and elsewhere, Jews are once again being targeted just for being Jews".


"We see anti-Semitism directed against individual Jews, and we also see this hatred directed against the collective Jew, against the Jewish state," he continued.


"Islamic extremists incorporate the most outrageous anti-Semitism into their murderous doctrines. We see this in Gaza; we see it in Raqqa; we see it in Tehran."


Prime Minister Netanyahu (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Prime Minister Netanyahu (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)


On Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of the dangers of anti-Semitism, in remarks at the opening of an exhibition featuring works by Jewish concentration camp prisoners.


She cited in particular the fears of German Jewish leaders that the need to impart the lessons of the Holocaust has grown more urgent with the influx of a record 1.1 million asylum seekers to Germany last year, many from the Middle East.


But Netanyahu warned that anti-Semitism was not merely growing among immigrant communities, but was gaining traction across Europe.


"Even respected Western opinion leaders have become afflicted with hatred for the Jewish people and the Jewish state," Netanyahu said, without giving names.


"The obsession with the Jews - the fixation on the Jewish state - defies any other rational explanation," he continued. 


"While across the region, Islamist militants brutalize entire populations, enslave and rape women, murder Christians and gays, the UN Human Rights Council repeatedly condemns Israel. More than North Korea. More than Iran. More than Syria. More than all of them put together. Some things just don't change."


"When a state like Iran and movements like ISIS and Hamas openly declare their goal of committing another Holocaust, we will not let it happen," Netanyahu stressed. "But Europe and the rest of the world must stand up together with us. Not for our sake; for theirs."


'Am Israel Chai'

The International Holocaust Remembrance Day will be marked around the globe on Wednesday to commemorate the six million Jews who died at the hands of Nazi Germany and its allies. Israel marks its own Holocaust remembrance day, which this year will be held in May.


This year, at a special ceremony at the UN General Assembley, Israel will be represented for the first time by a Holocaust survivor.


Martha Weiss, 81, who survived the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp when she was a child, was invited by Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon to speak in front of the UN.


"As someone who faced the Nazis at the extremination camp when I was a child, I could not believe I will get to represent the Jewish state at the UN, in front of the whole world," Weiss said this week.


Martha Weiss (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Martha Weiss (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)


The UN ceremony is considered the most important among the international Holocaust commemoration services. Israel sends one main speaker every year - last year it was President Reuven Rivlin.


"I was very excited to receive the invitation from Ambassador Danon," Weiss said. "After consulting with my husband, we decided we would both come to represent Israel on Holocaust Remembrance Day at the UN."


Weiss, who was born in what is now the Czech Republic, immigrated to Israel with her husband 18 years ago from Melbourne, Australia, after her three daughters made aliyah. Now, she lives in Jerusalem and has nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.


At the UN, Weiss will tell her personal story of surviving the Holocaust, talk about the importance of keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive as part of humanity's collective memory, and discuss the rising anti-Semitism in Europe, mostly in France.


"What's happening to Jews in France with anti-Semitism and being afraid to wear a kippah is outrageous. The nations of the world must all unite against anti-Semitism and not allow it to rear its head again," Weiss said.


"During my speech at the UN I'm going to wear a 'chai' necklace that I wear every time I talk about the Holocaust. When I, who've been to Auschwitz-Birkenau, stand on the most important stage with a necklace like that, I send out a clear message: Am Israel Chai (The people of Israel still live) and this is how it's going to be forever. Unlike during the Holocaust, we now have the State of Israel, the state of the Jewish people, and we will not remain silent to the rising anti-Semitism, we will not bury our heads in the sand and will not allow what happened in the Holocaust to happen again."


Weiss also has a more universal message: "Let us try to live together all over the world as people, instead of fighting."


In another first, US President Barack Obama is expected to attend a Holocaust memorial service at the US Embassy in Washington on Wednesday.


Two American nationals and two Poles will be recognized as righteous among the nations at the ceremony. This will also be the first time the honor is bestowed in the United States.




פרסום ראשון: 01.26.16, 21:12
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