The United States must resolve that "never again" is not just an empty slogan, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Thursday, in a statement marking Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Obama's comments came after, on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the crowd gathered at Yad Vashem that Israel's "enemies tried to bury the Jewish future but our future was born again in the land of our forefathers, here we built a base, and a new beginning of freedom, and hope and action.”
Netanyahu went on to say that today’s generation “faces calls to exterminate the Jewish State,” and that lessons of the past must not be forgotten. He focused on Iran, calling it an existential threat to Israel, and to world peace, said "It is the world’s responsibility to stop Iran securing nuclear weapons."
Obama, in his statement released on Thursday, said that on this "day, and all days, we must do more than remember. We must resolve that 'never again' is more than an empty slogan."
"As individuals, we must guard against indifference in our hearts and recognize ourselves in our fellow human beings," the American president said, adding that, as "societies, we must stand against ignorance and anti-Semitism, including those who try to deny the Holocaust. As nations, we must do everything we can to prevent and end atrocities in our time."
Obama began his statement by saying: "We honor the memory of six million innocent men, women and children who were sent to their deaths simply because of their Jewish faith. We stand in awe of those who fought back, in the ghettos and in the camps, against overwhelming odds."
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, also speaking to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, said during a ceremony at the Department of Defense, attended by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, that: “Today we pause to remember and honor 6 million souls who were murdered not because of anything they had done, but because of who they were."
Referring to guest speaker Charlotte Schiff, the sole member of her family who survived the Holocaust, Panetta said that it was "our honor to affirm to you that we will never stop fighting in the memory of those who perished – fighting for a better future, [and] fighting for a world safe from aggression, from tyranny and from injustice."
Holocaust Remembrance Day, Panetta added, was also a day to mark the Jewish people, “who overcame this tragedy and built a strong and vibrant Jewish state in Israel."
Addressing Barak, the U.S. defense secretary said: “Ehud, I am proud to be your partner, I’m proud to be your friend, and I’m proud to work with you in continuing to strengthen the U.S.-Israel defense relationship."
“To defeat Hitler,” he said, “we mobilized all of the strength that we could muster, and in that effort we witnessed many of our finest hours as a military and, indeed, as a country,” Panetta said, adding that, in spite of allied efforts during in World War II, “we must always remember that we were unable to save the 6 million Jews who perished under Hitler’s cruel reign.”
That burden, he added, according to a Department of Defense statement, must be carried forward as a determination that no horror like the Holocaust ever happens again.
“Today we renew that commitment, and we do so by coming together to bear witness, just as our service members did more than 65 years ago,” Panetta said.
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