The world needs to face the horrors of genocide, and instead of being paralyzed by the past, people must act against future bloodshed, filmmaker Steven Spielberg said at the United Nations Holocaust Memorial Ceremony in New York Monday.
"We must refuse paralysis," Spielberg said. "Genocide is evil, but I think perhaps the greatest evil is when people who have been spared the horrors permit themselves to despair. The despair of those who would otherwise act is evil's triumph."
"[Holocaust survivors'] determined demand is that we engage fully with history, that the Holocaust remains with us in memory," Spielberg said. "Theirs were journeys into the Holocaust, they cannot emerge from it and neither can the world until there are no more genocides, until the unthinkable becomes impossible."
Ron Prosser, Israel's permanent representative to the UN, also spoke in the ceremony. "The Jewish people have been tormented, exiled and persecuted like no other people in history - but we never gave up," he said. "In the ghettos and concentration camps, Jews established schools and synagogues. They celebrated holidays and weddings. They made music, sang and danced even as death loomed all around."
"The Jewish people want peace, but history has shown that we cannot rely on others to defend us. We are resilient and we are also realistic," Prosser added. "The world is still plagued by prejudice and - even as we speak - anti-Semitism is being sponsored and spread by governments, teachers, and religious leaders. [The Holocaust] showed us that awareness must be matched with action."
"I encourage governments to take action by partnering with UN Information Centres to educate the next generation. In doing so, you will pay tribute to the victims of the Holocaust and take a stand against indifference," said Prosser.
Monday was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating 69 years since Soviet soldiers liberated the Auschwitz death-camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. The day was marked by numerous ceremonies all over the world, including one at the site of Auschwitz, which was attended by a notably large delegation of Israeli parliamentarians.
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