At the initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry for Social Equality, a special event in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, entitled "Remembering, Perpetuating, and Pursuing Justice", was held today. The event was hosted simultaneously at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem and at the Terezin concentration camp in the Czech Republic. Holocaust survivors, leaders of Jewish communities and organizations, ambassadors of signatory countries to the Terezin Declaration, and members of parliament from a number of countries took part in the event.
President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin began the event with a recorded message. Following him, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, President of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman, Minister of Labor, Welfare, and Social Services and Minister for Social Equality Itzik Shmuli, Minister of Diaspora Affairs Omer Yankelevich, and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Tomas Petricek delivered remarks. In addition, President of the Claims Conference, Gideon Taylor, and Chairperson of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, Colette Avital, also delivered speeches. Recorded messages were also sent by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, and Vice President of the European Parliament Nicola Beer. The event was concluded with the lighting of a memorial candle live from Terezin concentration camp.
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi: "Today, we are marking 76 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Now more than ever, we must pledge that the voices of survivors be heard, perpetuated, and that they educate future generations, to ensure that the world never returns to the horrors of the Holocaust. We must take real steps to ensure that the lessons of the past are learned. I call on countries to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism. Countries must do their utmost to compensate for the crimes perpetuated by the Nazis and their allies during the Holocaust.
We continue to hear the voices of hate and incitement from Iran and its allies. We cannot ignore these voices, which call for the destruction of Israel. The State of Israel will protect itself, by itself".
Itzik Shmuli, Minister of Labor, Welfare, and Social Services, and Minister for Social Equality: "Our moral duty is to work together in order to ensure that all Holocaust survivors receive the recognition, support, and care that they need to live their lives with dignity and good health. As Minister of Labor, Welfare, and Social Services, and as Minister for Social Equality, it is my privilege to lead the government's efforts in doing exactly this. Recent years have proven that as time passes, distancing us from the Holocaust, the scourge of antisemitism still finds a home in the hearts of many across the world. These incidents serve as a reminder of our duty to denounce and confront all forms of antisemitism and racism wherever they rear their ugly heads. This goes hand in hand with the great task now facing us – the task of remembrance and commemoration".
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken: "Every day that I serve as Secretary of State, I will carry the memory of my stepfather and his family, and of the six million Jewish people and millions of others who were killed during the Holocaust. I will remember that a nation's power is not measured only by the size of its military and economy, but by the moral choices it makes, and I will remember that atrocities like the Holocaust do not just happen – they are allowed to happen. It is up to us to stop them. Never again."
Gideon Taylor, President of the Claims Conference and Chair of Operations of the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO): “As we join together on International Holocaust Remembrance Day to remember the 6 million we lost, we pledge to victims that they will never be forgotten, and that their legacy will be kept alive. Let us also remember our urgent duty to care for remaining survivors. We must meet this sacred responsibility at a time when survivors, along with us all, face the perils of a global pandemic.”
Colette Avital, Chairperson of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel: “At this International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony, with honored speakers in Israel, Europe and the United States, we must all recognize our obligation to do more to preserve and commemorate the memory of Holocaust victims and to redouble our efforts to support Holocaust survivors so that they can live their remaining days with the dignity that they deserve.”