Text size

During yesterday's closing ceremony of Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Day, Defense Minister Ehud Barak sent a message to Iran that "this time the Jews have an option, and we will not hesitate to act against those who threaten the Jewish people."

Speaking at Yad Mordechai, Barak said that "the rise of racism is the result of an appeasing atmosphere toward those who deny the Holocaust, and leading among them is Iran's president, who is calling for the destruction of the Jewish people."

"We, who have paid a bloody price and learned a lesson from the Second World War, are telling our closest friends that behaving with appeasement is interpreted by tyrants in only one way: weakness. Leaders of this sort only understand one type of language: force backed by moral power," Barak added.

At 11 A.M. yesterday, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin opened in the Knesset the ceremony entitled "Everyone has a name."

During the ceremony MKs past and present called out the names of their family members killed in the Holocaust, and mentioned other victims. Rivlin opted to read out the names of children taken from a hideout in France and sent to Auschwitz.

According to the research of Professor Shaul Friedlander, Klaus Barbie, the Gestapo chief in Lyon, sent a message to his superior, reporting "a most successful catch." This included 41 children, aged 3-13, caught in April 1944, and with them a 10-member team of Jewish caretakers. They were all sent to Auschwitz and none survived.

President Shimon Peres read out the names of his family who were burned in the synagogue of Vishneva.

Speaking about his personal biography during the ceremony, Peres talked of the fate of his family in the town, "butchered with 2,060 members of the community in the town of Vishneva in August 1942, by the Nazis and local collaborators, who gathered them in the town's synagogue that was made of wood and brutally killed them by shooting and burning them."

Opposition head Tzipi Livni took part in the ceremony by commemorating educators, "teachers and principals who continued educating through the Holocaust until their deaths, some with their pupils."

MK Ahmed Tibi, who also participated in the ceremony, said that "I have deep empathy for the survivors. The Holocaust is the worst crime in modern history, which was carried out by the Nazi war machine and based on racist and cruel theories."

Yesterday, the chairman of the board of Yad Vashem, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, condemned the world's indifference to the fate of Gilad Shalit, who is being held by Hamas. Lau spoke at the main ceremony of the March of Life, in which more than 10,000 people took part - most youth and one-third Jewish.

Among the 40 delegations that participated in the march this year were groups from Turkey, Greece, Mexico, Canada and other countries.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky said during an address at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp that "here, at the most infamous site on the planet, the Nazi regime tried to destroy more than an identity: It sought to wipe off the earth an entire people, an entire culture, an entire civilization. It is easy to say that the lessons of Auschwitz were learned. It is easy to say the magic words 'never again.' The difficult part is to give meaning to these words. This is our challenge. This is your challenge. In order to prevent a situation in which this evil repeats itself, every one here today is responsible."