Netanyahu: ‘Am Yisrael Chai’ (WEEKLY STANDARD) BY WILLIAM KRISTOL / BLOG 04/19/12)
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Here´s the text of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu´s
powerful Holocaust Remembrance Day speech to his countrymen. Worth
pril 19, 2012
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Speech at Holocaust Remembrance Day
Yesterday morning, I visited an old-age home for Holocaust survivors.
There, I met Idit Yapo, an amazing woman of 104, clear and lucid.
Idit fled Germany shortly after Hitler gained power, in 1934.
I met 89-year-old Esther Nadiv, one of Mendele’s twins. She was
reading a book, Golda Meir’s biography, and she told me, with a glint
in her eye, she said: “I am so proud, so very proud to be a part of
the State of Israel which is in constant development.”
I met Hanoch Mandelbaum, an 89-year-old survivor of Bergen-Belsen.
Shortly after he came to Israel, as a young carpenter, he helped
construct the desk upon which Ben Gurion signed the Declaration of
Independence. That is MiSho’a liTkuma – from holocaust to
And I met Elisheva Lehman, an 88 year-old Holocaust survivor
fromHolland, who was a music teacher.
I asked Elisheva if she would play something for us and she did. She
enthusiastically played “Am Yisrael Chai” and we all sung together.
It was quite emotional.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Am Yisrael Chai [The nation of Israel lives]
Our enemies tried to bury the Jewish future, but it was reborn in the
land of our forefathers. Here, we built a foundation for a new
beginning of freedom, hope, and creation. Year after year, decade
after decade, we built the foundations of our country, and we will
continue to yearly strengthen the pillars of our national life.
On this day, when our entire nation gathers together to remember the
horrors of the Holocaust and the six million Jews who were murdered,
we must fulfill our most sacred obligation.
This obligation is not merely an obligation to remember the past. It
is an obligation to learn its lessons, and, most importantly, to
apply them to the present in order to secure the future of our
people. We must remember the past and secure the future by applying
the lessons of the past.
This is especially true for this generation – a generation that once
again is faced with calls to annihilate the Jewish State.
One day, I hope that the State of Israel will enjoy peace with all
the countries and all the peoples in our region. One day, I hope
that we will read about these calls to destroy the Jews only in
history books and not in daily newspapers.
But that day has not yet come.
Today, the regime in Iran openly calls and determinedly works for our
destruction. And it is feverishly working to develop atomic weapons
to achieve that goal.
I know that there are those who do not like when I speak such
uncomfortable truths. They prefer that we not speak of a nuclear
Iran as an existential threat. They say that such language, even if
true, only sows fear and panic.
I ask, have these people lost all faith in the people of Israel?
Do they think that this nation, which has overcome every danger,
lacks the strength to confront this new threat?
Did the State of Israel not triumph over existential threats when it
was far less powerful than it is today? Did its leaders have any
qualms about saying the truth?
David Ben Gurion told the people of Israel the truth about the
existential dangers they faced in 1948 when five Arab armies tried to
snuff Israel out in its cradle.
Levi Eshkol told the people of Israel the truth in 1967 when a noose
was being placed around Israel’s neck and we stood alone to face our
And when they heard these truths, did the people of Israel panic or
did they unite to thwart the dangers? Were we paralyzed with fear or
did we do what was necessary to protect ourselves.
I believe in the people of Israel – and this belief is based on our
experiences. I believe that the people of Israel can handle the
truth. And I believe that they we have the capability to defeat
those who seek to harm us.
Those who dismiss Iran’s threats as exaggerated or as mere idle
posturing have learned nothing from the Holocaust. But we should not
There have always been those among us who prefer to mock those who
tell uncomfortable truths than squarely face the truth themselves.
That is how Zev Jabotinsky was received when he warned the Jews of
Poland of the looming Holocaust.
This is what he said in 1938, in Warsaw:
“It is already THREE years that I am calling upon you, Polish Jewry,
who are the crown of World Jewry. I continue to warn you incessantly
that a catastrophe is coming closer. I became grey and old in these
years, my heart bleeds, that you, dear brother and sisters, do not
see the volcano which will soon begin to spit its all-consuming
lava… I see that you are not seeing this because you are immersed
and sunk in your daily worries… Listen to me in this twelfth hour:
In the name of G-d! Let anyone of you save himself, as long as there
is still time, and time there is very little.”
But the leading Jewish intellectuals of the day ridiculed Jabotinsky,
and rather than heed his warning, they attacked him.
This is what Sholem Asch, one of our nation’s greatest writers, said
“What Jabotinsky is now doing in Poland is going too far. His
statement is detrimental to Zionism and to the vital interests of our
people… It is disgraceful that these are leaders of a nation.”
I know there are also those who believe that the unique evil of the
Holocaust should never be invoked in discussing other threats facing
the Jewish people.
To do so, they argue, is to belittle the Holocaust and to offend its
I totally disagree. On the contrary. To cower from speaking the
uncomfortable truth – that today like then, there are those who want
to destroy millions of Jewish people – that is to belittle the
Holocaust, that is to offend its victims and that is to ignore the
Not only does the Prime Minister of Israel have the right, when
speaking of these existential dangers, to invoke the memory of a
third of our nation which was annihilated. It is his duty.
There is a memorable scene in Claude Lanzmann’s documentary Shoahthat
explains this obligation more than anything.
In the harsh existence in the Warsaw Ghetto, Leon Feiner of the Bund
and Menachem Kirschenbaum of the General Zionists met with Jan Karski
from the Polish World War II Resistance Movement.
Jan Karski was a decent, sensitive man, and they begged him to appeal
to the conscience of the world against the Nazi crimes. They
described what was happening, they showed him, but to no avail.
They said: “Help us. We have no country of our own, we have no
government, and we even have no voice among the nations”
They were right.
Seventy years ago the Jewish people did not have the national
capacity to summon the nations, nor the military might to defend
But today things are different.
Today we have an army.
We have the ability, the duty and the determination to defend
As Prime Minister of Israel, I will never shy from speaking the truth
before the world, no matter how uncomfortable it may seem to some.
I speak the truth at the United Nations; I speak the truth in
Washington, D.C., the capital of our great friend, the United States,
and in other important capitals; And I speak the truth here in
Jerusalem, on the grounds of Yad VaShem which are saturated with
I will continue to speak the truth to the world, but first and
foremost I must speak it to my own people. I know that my people are
strong enough to hear the truth.
The truth is that a nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat of
the State of Israel.
The truth is that a nuclear-armed Iran is a political threat to other
countries throughout the region and a grave threat to the world peace.
The truth is that Iran must be stopped from obtaining nuclear weapons.
It is the duty of the whole world, but above and beyond, it is OUR
The memory of the Holocaust goes beyond holding memorial services; it
is not merely a historical recollection.
The memory of the Holocaust obligates us to apply the lessons of the
past to ensure the basis of our future.
We will never bury our heads in the sand.
Am Yisrael Chai, veNetzach Yisrael Lo Yeshaker.
[The Nation of Israel Lives, and the Eternal one of Israel does not
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