By JPOST.COM STAFF
PM draws on memory of Holocaust victims who were murdered in “blood-soaked Europe” to send clear message to “new Amaleks” in era of controversy over Israel’s right to self-defense.
In a much-anticipated speech at Auschwitz-Birkenau marking International Holocaust Memorial Day Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reasserted the right of the Jewish people to self-defense amid increasing concern over the Iranian threat and growing controversy abroad over the legitimacy of Israel and its military.
“From the cursed ground at Auschwitz, Birkenau and other camps rise the voices of our brothers and sisters, our people who choked to death and were burned and murdered,” said the prime minister, in English, wishing “decency, truth and hope … for all mankind” before switching to Hebrew, “the language the Nazis sought to exterminate.”
“Remember what Amalek did to you,” cautioned Netanyahu, quoting a particularly ominous passage from Deuteronomy. “I have come here today from Jerusalem to tell you: We will never forget. We will not allow the Holocaust deniers or those who desecrate [Jewish] graves and signs to erase or distort [our] memory.”
The prime minister also warned that though the “Nazi Amalek” was almost entirely a ghost of the past, “a new Amalek is appearing and once again threatening to annihilate the Jews. We will not allow it … We will never forget and always stand guard,” he said.
“Murderous hatred must be stopped in its tracks, stopped right from the beginning. All countries in the world must learn this lesson, just as we did after losing a third of our people in blood-soaked Europe. We learned that the only guarantee for the protection of our people is the State of Israel and its army, the IDF,” Netanyahu declared, warning that never again would the existence of Israel and the Jewish people be threatened.
Israel, he said, must stand at the forefront of all civilized nations and warn them about impending danger – while also preparing to defend itself against all threats. “I promise, as head of the Jewish state, that never again will we allow the hand of evil to sever the life of our people and our state,” he solemnly added. Netanyahu chose not to specifically refer to the Iranian regime and its nuclear drive, but has drawn a link between the Nazis and the Iranian threat to the Jews in many recent speeches.
“Am Yisrael Chai, we have returned to our homeland, to the land of our forefathers, to Jerusalem, our capital. We have converged from all corners of the world, Holocaust survivors, Arab Jews, Jews from former Soviet Union states, Ethiopian Jews,” Netanyahu said, choosing frosty Poland as the location for his rebuke to those who claim the Jewish population of Israel is comprised mostly of emigrants from Europe.
“We bow our heads in memory [of Holocaust victims] and raise our heads as our flag waves with its two blue stripes and the Star of David at its center. We still haven’t lost our hope.”