Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres used the platform at yesterday's Holocaust Remembrance Day memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem to urge countries around the world to work unwaveringly to stop Iran's nuclear program.
At yesterday's main Holocaust Day ceremony, Netanyahu warned against a rising tide of anti-Semitism "kindled by radical Islamist organizations and regimes, led by Iran and its satellites."
"I call on the enlightened nations of the world to loudly condemn Iran's destructive intentions, and to act resolutely to stop it from arming itself with nuclear weapons," he said before hundreds of Holocaust survivors and their families, political leaders, diplomats and others.
The world has so far failed to adequately denounce Tehran, Netanyahu said.
"Iran's leaders are barreling toward developing a nuclear weapon, and openly declaring their desire to destroy Israel. In the face of these repeated pledges to remove the Jewish state from the earth, we encounter in the best case a limp reaction, and even that is fading," he said. "We do not hear the necessary rejection, no harsh denunciation, no outcry. The world is carrying on as usual, and there are those who direct their fire at us, at Israel."
The theme of this year's ceremony was "voices of the survivors," paying tribute to those working to preserve the memories of the 6 million victims of the Holocaust.
"If we have learned anything from the Holocaust," Netanyahu said, "it is that we must not be silent or be deterred in the face of evil."
Air raid sirens are set to wail across the country at 10 A.M. today to mark two minutes of silence.
Peres recalled visiting the village in Poland where he was born, where of all the Jewish homes and synagogues, he said, not a single beam remains.
Turning to the present, he said, "Weapons of mass destruction in the hands of those capable of mass destruction, with voices encouraging that destruction - that is the most perilous combination to world peace.
"Israel will never forget two imperatives the Holocaust taught us," said Peres. "One is the need for an independent Jewish state with its security in its own hands and peace in its heart. The second is to take a serious view toward warnings of annihilation, Holocaust denial and acts of terrorism.
"It is our right and duty to insist that the nations of the world not return to showing the indifference that cost the lives of millions of victims, including their own. The United Nations must be attentive to the threats of destruction sounded by one country, a UN member state, against another, lest the UN Charter be contravened."
Hanna Weiss, an Italian-born Auschwitz survivor who spoke on behalf of survivors, cited the universal lessons of the Holocaust. "I emerged from Auschwitz alive, and I feel that I won. I don't feel like a victim. I wasn't born in Auschwitz but didn't die there. I had a rich and beautiful life before Auschwitz, and I have life after it.
"We saw all the evil that man is capable of, and as such have a moral obligation to raise our children and grandchildren to preserve the principles of humanity, to raise them to love life, to be tolerant of every human being regardless of race, color or creed, because every man has his place under the sun," she said.
At Massuah, the International Institute for Holocaust Studies in the Netanya-area kibbutz Tel Yitzhak, Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said: "None of our enemies will determine the fate of the Jewish people. We are now witnessing waves of anti-Semitic rhetoric calling for completing the work of the Nazis. But we will not stand helpless in the face of that threat."
"As the second generation after the Holocaust, its memory will not fade from our hearts," he said.
In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama called for vigilance against anti-Semitism and genocide in a statement released to coincide with Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Obama said the world must not tolerate the hateful stereotypes and prejudice against the Jewish people that continue to this day: "The memories of the victims serve as a constant reminder to honor their legacy by renewing our commitment to prevent genocide and to confront anti-Semitism and prejudice in all of its forms."
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