Bennett: 'Even the Most Brutal Wars of Our Times Are Not Similar to the Holocaust'

Speaking at Israel's Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony, the prime minister denounces comparisons between contemporary events and the murder of Jews in World War II

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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaking at Israel's main Holocaust Remembrance Day event at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaking at Israel's main Holocaust Remembrance Day event at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, on Wednesday.Credit: Noam Rivkin Panton
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett denounced in his speech on the eve of Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday comparisons of "cruel" contemporary events with the systematic murder of European Jewry in World War II.

"The Holocaust is an unprecedented event in human history," Bennett said, adding that "Even the most difficult wars today are not the Holocaust and are not comparable to the Holocaust."

He and other senior Israeli officials had previously criticized Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's comparison of the Russian invasion to the Nazi genocide.

Israeli politicians lined up to eulogize the victims of the Nazi killing of six million Jews at Wednesday's ceremony in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center. Bundestag President Barbel Bas also attended the ceremony, the first senior German official to mark the commemoration in Israel. 

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett also spoke about the heroism of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, but noted that "that the two Jewish organizations that fought the Germans did so not as one body but rather as two competing organizations which failed to cooperate amongst themselves. Those two organizations were the Jewish Military Union, that belonged to the right-wing revisionist movement, and the Jewish Fighting Organization, that belonged to the left-wing socialist movement."

"Even during the darkest chapter of Jewish history, during our people's inferno of extermination, the left and the right did not find a way to work together," said Bennett, whose coalition comprised of many political stripes recently lost its majority

"My brothers and sisters, we cannot, we simply cannot allow the same dangerous gene of factionalism dismantle Israel from within."

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett delivers remarks during a ceremony marking the Holocaust Remembrance Day at Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.Credit: Menahem Kahana / AFP

In his address, President Isaac Herzog emphasized the imperative to remember the victims, stating "we stand no chance, nor have we any justification as a people and as a state, if we do not remember forever what happened to our people," he said.

"In the ghettos, in the basements of the Gestapo, in the execution pits, in the death trains, in the extermination camps, in the crematoria, and in every other place where the image of humanity was lost and no trace of compassion survived," he continued.

Talking about the persistence of antisemitism across the ages, Bennett said that "whenever we are tempted to believe that we have entered a new, liberal, modern era in which people no longer hold on to Jew hatred, reality awakens us to the truth. What is the lesson?"

"Our critical imperative is to stand up for our own fate. Rely only on ourselves. To be strong and never apologize for our very existence or our success," Bennett answered.

"Building the State of Israel, the Jewish state in the Land of Israel, is in fact our victory over those who sought to wipe us out. Let us all embrace and safeguard our country."

President Herzog also said the country "must act in a cohesive and determined manner in the face of terrorism and hatred, led by states and organizations against us, and fortify Israel's independence as an iron wall defending us against our enemies."

"Casting doubt on Israel's right to exist is not legitimate diplomacy but pure antisemitism, which must be uprooted," Herzog added. 

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