Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday called on the world "to confront Iran's exterminatory intentions and act resolutely to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons."
Netanyahu spoke at the state ceremony on the eve of the Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Day at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
"The historic failure of free societies to confront the Nazi beast was that they did not face it in time," Netanyahu said. "And today we are witness to the old hatred of Jews once again, fueled by extremist Islamic authorities, led by Iran and its satellites."
"Iran's leadership is racing to develop nuclear weapons and declares its intention to destroy Israel. The world is gradually accepting Iran's exterminatory declarations regarding Israel and still we do not see the international determination required to stop the arming of Iran. But if we learned something from the Holocaust, it is that we cannot remain quiet or flinch in the face of evil."
Earlier in the ceremony, President Shimon Peres said the world must not repeat its indifference at the face of new cries for the destruction of the Jewish people.
Peres went on to say that "Israel will never forget the two decrees which the Holocaust enforced."
"The firm demand to sustain an independent Jewish state, one that holds its security in its own hands while at the same time tirelessly seeking peace as well as the demand to treat threats of annihilation, Holocaust denials, and terror mongering with the utmost severity."
Referring to comments made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has threatened to "wipe the Zionist regime off the map," Peres said that it was Israel's right "and duty to demand the nations of the worlds never to repeat their indifference, one which cost millions of lives, including their own."
"The ears of the United Nations must be attuned to the threats of annihilation made by one member of the UN against another. Otherwise, the foundation which holds the UN charter will collapse," Peres said.
Referring to efforts to make the Middle East a nuclear-free zone, the president said that "in order to reach clean skies in the Middle East we must first dismantle the threats of annihilation."
"Weapons of mass destruction in hands capable of destroying masses accompanied by voices calling for such destruction are the combination most perilous to world peace. They turn the world into an uncontrollable place," Peres said.
The President added that he believed that some "parts of the Iranian people are themselves ashamed of the tyranny which has taken hold of it," adding that he thought the Arab states were "aware that Ahmadinejad's anti-Israel incitement is meant to disguise his real aim, which is establishing Iran as a regional power."
"The [Second] World War broke with the Nazis' devilish incitement, claiming that they were a supreme race and Deutschland Uber Alles. We must never return to the beastly conception according to which there is such a thing as a supreme man, or supreme regime, or supreme race which can do whatever it sees fit," Peres said.
Earlier in his speech, President Peres said that with night falling on all of Israel, evening had also fallen "not long ago on Antopol, Zhoromin, Rodnik and Mikhalova, towns that three quarters of their population was was wiped out. Not a single Jew is left."
"Night has fallen on the village of Tostanovitza, where 2,803 Jews were murdered, on Libau in Latvia, where 7,101 Jews were murdered, on Khelm by Lublin from which 15,000 Jews were sent to their death," Peres said, adding that "darkness has also started covering the shadows of Dachau, Auschwitz and Birkenau, as well as Vishnive, where I was born and visited again as an Israeli minister, with not even one wooden beam left from the Jewish homes and the synagogue."
Recalling the trip to his childhood town, Peres said he "visited the well that stood in our backyard. The water did not burn. I drew the bucket to taste the wasters of my childhood, and the water burned in my mouth, the taste of the fire which destroyed the town's people, my family, who remained there."
"This night spread like a mourner's hut on the thousands of communities whose existence became a petrified tombstone, whose people and culture burned to ashes."
A sundown covering the devastated synagogues and shuls, theaters and cultural institutions, the books that were set alight, the schools that turned to ashes. All erased, the lives, the houses, the culture, a world's smoky embers."
"That fire will continue to burn within us, as an impossible farewell to our six million brothers, men, women, and elderly people, to a million and a half of our children, an immense potential of life and talent that was annihilated, an unreturnable loss."
"He who passes today through the town of Zivorov in the Ukraine cannot know that in that place, one summer day in the beginning of 1941, a thousand Jews were shot to death and buried in two pits in the town."
"He who passes today cannot hear the cry of April 9, 1943, when 2,300 Jews were forced to dig their own graves near the Sokolinaya gymnasium. They were murdered and thrown into the pits they dug with their own hands."
"'What shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion?'" asks the Book of Lamentations, and asked the survivors of the ramps in Treblinka, Auschwitz and Birkenau, and asked those who arrived in Israel and immediately enlisted to the defense of the people in their fight for independence."
Also referring to the defense of the Jewish people in light of the lessons learned by the Holocaust, Israel Defense Forces chief Gabi Ashkenazi said earlier Sunday that never again would the Jewish people lack the means to defend themselves.
Speaking at the Yad Vashem memorial, Ashkenazi said the Jewish people "will never again be dependent on the benevolence of others," Ashkenazi said. "Never again will Jewish children be fearful or begging for mercy. Never again will an advocate of evil be able to dictate the future of the Jewish people."
"In the name of my father and his family who fought for a sovereign and independent state and in the name of the millions who were unable to witness the realization of their dream, I stand here today as the commander of the Hebrew defense force, the Israel Defense Forces."
Ashkenazi talked about the experiences of his father, a Holocaust survivor from the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv.
"On the night of March 9th, 1943, my father's family opened their door to find Bulgarian police ordering them to prepare to be deported from Bulgaria within a few hours," Ashkenazi said. "Along with 6,000 other Jews, my father assembled in the yard of the school and recited the prayer 'Shema Yisrael.' In the end, my father and the Jews of Plovdiv were not sent to the death camps. The cancellation of their deportation order arrived when they were already at the train station, a short time before they were supposed to depart.
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