Yair Lapid
Yair LapidElad Gutman

Opposition leader Yair Lapid spoke on Sunday evening at a Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Memorial Day) ceremony in Yad Mordechai.

"October 7th was the most terrible day the Jewish people have gone through since the Holocaust. I was sitting in the basement of my house, rockets were exploding outside and I was talking on the phone with people who were shouting, 'Where is the army? Why didn't it come?'. I thought of my father in another basement, the basement of the ghetto, a 14-year-old Jewish boy who knew there was no one to cry out to. There was no army to come save him," said Lapid, speaking of his father, Tommy Lapid, who was a Holocaust survivor.

"However, precisely there, precisely in the ghetto, hope did not die - it was born. On this Holocaust Memorial Day, in this place, I came to remind you not of the despair and horror, but of what happened only three years after the Holocaust. Three years after the ghetto, after the extermination camps - only three years later - a ship approached the port of Haifa, an orchestra of survivors played 'Hatikva' on board, an improvised flag was raised on the mast, and a 17-year-old boy named Tommy Lampel - later, Yosef Lapid - burst into tears of joy, went ashore and enlisted in the army, the Jewish army," he added.

"Where will we be in three years? Wherever we choose to be," continued Lapid. "If the State of Israel sinks into hatred and fear, then our enemies have won. If we say to each other, 'We need to speak their language, because it's the only language they understand,' then it will become our language. This is what they want. This is what we must not give them."

"The Holocaust didn't only teach us that the Jews should have a state and an army. The Holocaust also taught us that this state should be good. You don't fight hate with hate. We won't be like them. We won't give them the pleasure. Since the Holocaust, we have been saying two things to the world: Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East; Israel is the strongest country in the Middle East. These two things lead to each other. We are strong because we are a democracy. We don't win in spite of our values, but because of them," he said.

"This day, this place, the survivors who founded it, taught us: You can always start over, you can always build better. We have the right and duty to choose a life of love and hope and the values of democracy, progress and freedom. Our life is not what happened to us, our life is what we make of it. Our life did not stay in the ghetto, we came here and were reborn. Our life is not the terrible massacre of October 7, but what we built and created as a response to this massacre."

"The Jewish people came out of the Holocaust and chose to establish the State of Israel. The Jewish people should come out of October 7th with a firm decision to establish a new, stronger, better society here that will be worthy of the memory of our parents and even more than that - that will be worthy of the lives of our children," he concluded.