In a somber ceremony to open national commemorations of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Shimon Peres said that it is Israel's legacy to physically defend Jewish lives, applauding Israel's stance as the "most anti-racist" country in the world.
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Peres said that the Nazi Holocaust proved beyond question that a Jewish state with a Jewish army was necessary.
"We were alone, with no state of our own. The American bomber planes that flew over Auschwitz did not drop a single bomb on the machines of mass murder," Peres said in Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.
"The Holocaust determined once and for all that there is no replacement for a home of our own. Nothing can take the place of the Israel Defense Forces," he added.
President Peres said that in this generation, there is a renewed threat to commit genocide against Jews, this time from the leaders of Iran, who make public statements questioning the official historical record of the Nazi Holocaust, and continually threaten to attack the State of Israel.
"Even after the Holocaust occurred, there exists a regime whose leaders are Holocaust deniers and open Holocaust promoters," Peres added. "This must cause every person to be repulsed, every conscience to feel revulsion."
"The Iranian leadership is a danger to the whole world, not only to Israel. It is a danger to every one, a real danger to the fate of mankind," Peres continued. "The nations of the world have announced that they will not abide nuclear weapons in the possession of Iran. Their words will now be tested."
"Even in a dark world, we have aspired and continue to aspire to be a light unto the nations," Peres said. "Because that is the meaning of a Jewish state: to physically defend ourselves and to morally defend our legacy."
"All citizens of Israel, regardless of religion or race, know that Israel is, was, and is committed to being the most anti-racist country in the world," Peres said.