Israel Remembers Holocaust

 

By Israel News Agency Staff

Updated May 1 2008

Air raid sirens marking Israel Holocaust Day will sound at 10 a.m. today throughout Israel.

"Never Forget"

Jerusalem ---- May 1, 2008 ...... "We will never forget, we will never hide and we will never stop asking ourselves every morning what we must do to prevent what happened to ever repeat itself," Israel President Shimon Peres said at the main ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial at sundown Wednesday.

Six torches were lit during the ceremony to honour the memory of the six million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis during World War II.

Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned that anti-Semitism and that Holocaust denial was on the rise across the world, referring mainly to Iran.

"Still, 63 years later, who would believe, the ugly face of the hatred of Jews and Israelis appears on different stages across the planet," the premier said at the ceremony.

"You wish to deny the right of existence of the Jewish state, and you are wrong to believe that the Jewish state was created only due to the Holocaust.

"The Holocaust only underscored the necessity of its creation and the horrible price that the Jewish people had to pay for the lack of existence of a state that can shelter them," Olmert said.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has branded the Holocaust a "myth" and in 2006 Tehran hosted a controversial revisionist Holocaust conference and sponsored a Holocaust cartoon contest, for which Israel and the international community responded to.

A study published by Tel Aviv University earlier on Monday said the worldwide number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2007 increased by nearly seven percent from the previous year.

 

Jerusalem --- April 15, 2007..... Arisen from the black ashes and white smoke of Europe's Holocaust is the modern state of Israel.

Throughout every Israel city, town, Moshav and Kibbutz, thousands attended Holocaust memorial services this evening. Under a dark blanket of stars and an early Spring chill, men, women and children sat silently on white plastic chairs to "bear witness" to the murdering of over 6 million Jews.

The Israel government, in cooperation with the Israel Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem stated that the central theme for this year’s Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day would be Bearing Witness. The Official Opening Ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day took place at 20:00, at the Warsaw Ghetto Square, Yad Vashem, Har Hazikaron in Jerusalem.

Israel’s Acting President Dalia Itzik and Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert addressed the participants. Avner Shalev, Yad Vashem Chairman, kindled the Memorial Torch. Joseph (Tommy) Lapid, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, spoke on behalf of the survivors. He said simply, “I was there.”

Pointing out that the "People of Israel are One," he added, “All of us were there. All of us were in the Holocaust,” and he warned that anti-Semitism is rampant in Europe, Japan and Muslim nations. He also exhorted the Jewish nation notto "sit with hands folded” while other people, such as those in Darfur, are being threatened with mass extermination.

During the ceremony in Jerusalem, six torches were lit by Holocaust survivors. The first torch was lit by Zanne Farbstein; the second torch by Mordechai (Motke) Wiesel, the third torch lit by Yaacov (Jacki) Handeli, the fourth torch lit by David Gur; the fifth torch by Miriam (Manya) Brodeski-Titelman and the sixth torch was lit by Ya’akov Janek Hollaender. During the ceremony, short videos of the torchlighters’ testimonies were shown.

Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Israel celebrates its 59th independence day next week.
"The renewal of the Jewish people, its shaking off the ashes of the Holocaust for a new life and national rebirth in its historic birthplace, is the pinnacle of its victory," he said.

The Israel Holocaust ceremony was broadcast live on Israel television on Channels 1, 2, 10 and 33 and by Israel radio on Kol Israel and Galei Zahal, and on www.yadvashem.org.

In the Tel Aviv suburb of Ra'anana, hundreds took their seats and witnessed another six holocaust survivors light torches in memory of those who were hung, shot and gassed in Germany, Poland, Russia, France, Belgium, Greece - throughout all of Western Europe.

As the torches were lit a dark smoke rose up reminding many of the large steel ovens which where never used to bake bread.
There was a reenactment of an early 1940's warm and colorful Shabbat dinner attended by a dozen family members somewhere in Nazi occupied Europe. The Jewish dinner was interrupted by Nazi German police car sirens, deafening, terrifying knocks on the door. Women, children and babies crying as the blast of rifle shots penetrated the air. As the Holocaust players took their roles, black and white slides were projected of real people who once sat at their family tables 60 years ago, only to quickly pack their bags and luggage for trucks and trains which awaited to take them to concentration death camps.

Those Holocaust death camps bear the names: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Chemno, Dachau, Jasenovac, Sobibo'r and Treblinka.

In the backdrop of these players and the very real black and white images of children and babies forcibly being separated from their parents was a potential and destructive boycott by the Vatican to attend the Israel Holocaust ceremony in Jerusalem.

In an open letter to Archbishop Antonio Franco in Old Jaffa from Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem, Shalev stated: "I received your letter of April 3, 2007, in which you expressed your intention of abstaining from the Opening Ceremony of Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day 2007, and was sorry to hear of it, particularly as this day and events are dedicated to the memory of the Holocaust and its victims. In this respect I recall the words of His Holiness Pope John Paul II during his visit to Yad Vashem about the importance of commemorating the Holocaust: “I have come to Yad Vashem to pay homage to the millions of Jewish people who, stripped of everything, especially of their human dignity were murdered in the Holocaust. More than half a century has passed, but the memories remain. We wish to remember.” I regret that you chose to link the commemoration of the Holocaust and its victims with this historical debate."

Shalev was making reference to a photo caption of Pope Pius XII who remained silent as millions of Jews perished in Europe.

"Here at Yad Vashem we are mandated to research the history of the Holocaust," said Shalev.
"The evaluation of the role of Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust poses a challenge to those who wish to seriously confront it. It is a complex issue, and we will continue to make sure that we are firmly rooted in the most updated historical truth. We would be pleased to examine any new documentation that may come to light on this issue. As I mentioned previously, and as you state in your letter, I too look forward to a fruitful and constructive dialogue based on mutual understanding and goodwill."

Just hours ago Franco reversed his decision and decided that he would attend the Holocaust ceremony in Israel.

Earlier the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) had open and harsh criticism for the Vatican calling the decision by the Vatican ambassador to Israel to boycott the Holocaust memorial services at Yad Vashem "inappropriate and insulting."

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) repeated its long-standing call for the Vatican to open its wartime archives so that the facts concerning the wartime actions of Pope Pius XII may finally be brought to light.

Archbishop Antonio Franco, the Vatican's ambassador to Israel, made the unprecedented announcement that he would boycott the Israel memorial events at Yad Vashem, Israel's national memorial to the Holocaust, in protest of a photo caption in an exhibit that seemingly charges Pope Pius XII with failing to save Jews during the Holocaust.

"While we understand Archbishop Franco's displeasure about the photo caption, his decision to boycott the entire Holocaust Memorial Day ceremonies is unnecessarily insulting and unbecoming," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor. "The photo caption may be inappropriate and too judgmental, but it does not justify the Vatican's refusal to participate in Israel's national observation of Holocaust Memorial Day."

Mr. Foxman said the episode served as yet another reminder of the need for the Vatican to declassify all archival materials covering the period of the rise of the Third Reich in Germany and World War II, "so that legitimate independent scholars and historians can study and analyze them and help us to finally learn the facts concerning Pope Pius XII and his actions vis-a`-vis Jews during the Holocaust.

"Without the public release and analysis of the Vatican's wartime archives, the questions about Pope Pius XII will remain unresolved," said Mr. Foxman. "These records have special significance for Holocaust survivors and their families. We strongly urge the Vatican to make public access to the archives their highest priority."

In 1998, the Vatican apologized to Jews on behalf of the entire Roman Catholic community, for failing to speak out against the Nazi holocaust during World War Two.

In his letter accompanying the apology, Pope John Paul said the holocaust remained an indelible stain on the 20th century. Cardinal Edward Cassidy, Head of the Vatican Commission, says it is an act of repentance.
The Head of the Vatican Commission, Cardinal Edward Cassidy, said the Vatican's statement amounted to an act of repentance as well as an apology.

The document asks whether persecution was made easier because some Christians held anti-Jewish prejudices.

But it also declares that many people were unaware of Hitler's so-called "final solution".
Pope John Paul has said he hopes the apology will help to heal the wounds of past injustices and misunderstandings between Christians and Jews. But the document made no criticism of the Pope of the time, Pius XII, who has been accused by the Jews of pro-German tendencies.

The document fails to explain why Pope Pius never took sides during World War Two by speaking out against the holocaust while it was actually taking place. The Vatican has always maintained he did everything he could behind the scenes to stop the slaughter.

In the document, the Vatican asks all Christians to meditate upon the catastrophe. The apology ends by warning that the seeds of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism must never again be allowed to take root.

Pope John Paul II dedicated much of his near 20-year-old papacy to improving relations with Jews, whom he refers to as "older brothers," after centuries of animosity.

In another related Holocaust issue, the ADL, which had maintained good relations with the Vatican, recently urged Pope Benedict to help protect Jews from Iran, saying it and its president were examples of a new "global malignancy" of anti-Semitism that could bring another Holocaust.

Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League in the United States, made his comments in an address to the Pope during an audience at the Vatican.

"We hope you will declare the Church's commitment to do everything in its power to prevent another Holocaust against the Jewish people from any party of the globe, including Iran," Foxman told the Pope. "In this generation arises a country's leader who not only denies the Holocaust, the attempted genocide of the Jewish people but again threatens to wipe out Israel, the state of the Jewish people - the president of Iran," Foxman told the Pope.

The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority said this would mark the first time in which a foreign emissary deliberately skipped the ceremony.

Yad Vashem officials in Israel said over the weekend that it might be worthwhile for the Vatican ambassador to do some soul-searching over whether he wants to use the memory of the Holocaust and its victims in this way.

The Israel Foreign Ministry said that, "The state ceremony at Yad Vashem is designed to honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, the most traumatic event in Jewish history and one of the most traumatic events in human history. As for participation in the ceremony, each person invited must act according to their own conscience."

So for us Jews living and working in Israel, the Holocaust continues.
Israel's very existence today was the direct result of homes, businesses and Beit Knesset's (temples) which were burnt to the ground in Europe. Seeking a new life many Jews returned to their historic and religious homeland - Israel.

But our very existence has been and continues to be shaped by the Holocaust.

Whether it be the Vatican which fails to recognize the negligent role of a Pope, Hezbollah Katusha rockets falling into Israel from Lebanon, Hamas Qassam rockets slamming into the Negev from Gaza or threats from Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia, we are a people still fighting for our very survival.

Last year, Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former Revolutionary Guardsman, called Israel a "tumour" which must be "wiped off the map", provoking a diplomatic storm and stoking up fears about Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Ahmadinejad also aired his doubts about the veracity of the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were killed by the Nazis. His comments drew rebuke the world over, including from the Vatican at the time.

"Today, sadly, the profound evil of anti-Semitism has become a global malignancy, emanating with vicious, violent, virulent force from the Middle East and (from) fundamental Islam," Foxman said in his speech.

On November 30, 2006, US radio talk show host Mr. Imus and his co-hosts referred to the "Jewish management at whoever we work for, CBS" whom he later described as "money grubbing bastards." That discussion resulted in a barrage of phone calls, letters and e-mails to ADL from listeners and viewers.

In December 2004, Mr. Imus referred to publishers of a new book called "The Christmas Thief" as "thieving Jews." Later on the same program, he attempted to apologize for that remark by saying (of thieving Jews), "I apologize … I realize that's redundant."

And in France anti-Semitism has reached new highs with Jews being harassed, injured and murdered at football games, in restaurants and on the streets. Today, one hears many French accents in Israel as these people again leave Europe for the First and Second Temple of Jerusalem.

In England, the Union of Journalists voted to boycott Israel goods as a result of what they perceived were Israel's "aggression" against Lebanon. Not one word was spoken about the terror missiles which were fired into Israel or the crossing of international borders to kidnap Israel soldiers - these were the actions that created Israel's defensive war.

Reaction on several journalist blogs condemned the England boycott of Israel. One wanted to know why the union didn't boycott notorious human rights abusers in Saudi Arabia or China.

Union member Tony Harnden, the Telegraph's Washington correspondent, called the move "inane" and "insulting to the intelligence," adding "this kind of thing is what gives British trade unions their loony left image."

Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah in Hebrew) is a national day of commemoration in Israel, on which the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust are memorialized. It is a solemn day, beginning at sunset on the 27th of the month of Nisan (Sunday evening, April 15, 2007) and ending the following evening, according to the traditional Jewish custom of marking a day.

Places of entertainment in Israel are closed and memorial ceremonies are held throughout the country.

The central ceremonies, in the evening and the following morning, are held at Yad Vashem and are broadcast on the television. The following morning, the Holocaust ceremony at Yad Vashem begins with the sounding of an air raid siren for two minutes throughout the entire country. For the duration of the sounding, work is halted, people walking in the streets stop, cars pull off to the side of the road and everybody stands at silent attention in reverence to the victims of the Holocaust.

Afterward, the focus of the ceremony at Yad Vashem is the laying of wreaths at the foot of the six torches, by dignitaries and the representatives of survivor groups and institutions. Other sites of remembrance in Israel, such as the Ghetto Fighters' Kibbutz and Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, also host memorial ceremonies, as do schools, military bases, municipalities and places of work.

Dalia Itzik, Acting President of the State of Israel and Speaker of the Knesset addressed the Jewish nation.

"This year, Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day will be dedicated to witnesses and testimonies “So that the generations to come might know” (Psalms 78, 6).

The records and the testimonies have been collected from letters, diaries and drawings and from scraps of paper hidden away during the Shoah that recorded the terrible pain and suffering. The survivors, the She’erit HaPleta, felt a compelling need to describe in prose and poetry what they had experienced during those terrible years in Europe from a personal standpoint. These testimonies and documents provide an invaluable insight into those terrible years during which the Jewish People lost one third of its number.

There are two principal lessons to be learned from the history of the Holocaust. The first is the vital need for a strong Jewish state. As the founders of the State of Israel noted in the Declaration of Independence, the Holocaust clearly proved the need to reestablish the Jewish people in an independent state in their homeland. Indeed, the State of Israel, which was established only 18 months after the end of the Holocaust, is the best guarantee that the Holocaust will never be repeated. In the new State of Israel we raised up, together with the survivors, the fallen Sukkat David [The Tabernacle of David] as prophesied by Amos, and established a democratic Jewish State committed to human dignity and liberty. This is the second lesson to be learned from the Holocaust. We must provide everyone, whatever their race, religion or sex, the protection of the state and fundamental human rights, and must seek the total elimination of racism or anti-semitism in whatever form throughout the world. All these principles are an integral part of the basic ideology of the State of Israel.

When we look back over what the Jewish state has achieved in its fifty-nine years of existence, our hearts fill with pride. When we review the path we have traveled, a path that has been paved with wars and existential struggles ever since the Holocaust, we can draw strength and encouragement and perhaps even a tiny drop of comfort.

On Yom Hashoah we shall remember, both in the State of Israel and in Jewish communities throughout the world, that “Unto Every Person There Is a Name”. We shall remember that many of the victims died leaving no relative or friend to recall their memory.

It is our national and our personal duty to remember every single martyr.
Yehi zichram baruch - May their memory be for a blessing and may their memory continue for all eternity."

At the weekly Israel government Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Olmert referred to Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes Remembrance Day events He said that the memory of the Holocaust will be at the top of Israel’s agenda in the coming days and added that the concern with remembering is not detached from concern for the survivors who live among us.

"Behind the awful collective memory live survivors who carry in their hearts harrowing personal memories and pain. It is the responsibility of the state to see to it that those who survived the Holocaust live in the
State of Israel with the proper respect."

The Holocaust is not over for us living in Israel.
We fear terror missile attacks from Iran and Syria, we fear terror bombing attacks in every restaurant, bus and shopping center. But there is a difference today. At this hour thousands of Israel Defense Force soldiers are taking turns standing next to and guarding Holocaust memorial flame on hundreds of IDF bases from the green Lebanon and Jordan borders to the hot brown sands of Egypt.

We in Israel will never again allow anyone, any nation to take us silently onto railroad cattle cars to face systematic murder and genocide.
As we continue to reach out in peace to our neighbors we remain alert.
Every day, every hour, every minute.
We never forget.

 

Related Web Sites:
Israel Remembers Nazi Holocaust Hunter Simon Wiesenthal

 

 

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