Israel came to a standstill starting Wednesday night as it began to mark the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day.
By: Roseanne Tabachnik
Israel came to a standstill on Wednesday night as it began to mark the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah, with an opening ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered their speeches at the ceremony, honoring the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis during World War II.
“Eighty years have gone by since that war broke out where they planned and executed the methodical extermination of the six million of our brothers and sisters,” President Rivlin said.
In his speech, the president warned that Israel must not form alliances with extremists and racist groups, who fail to recognize their wrongdoing and responsibility in the Holocaust.
Mr. Rivlin continued to speak of Israel’s strength and power in modern times. “I am not afraid for us, for the State of Israel. The Jewish people are no longer weak. It is not defenseless. The State of Israel is not only a stable democracy, we’re also powerful.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address followed Rivlin’s, emphasizing the significant role of Holocaust survivors in the state of Israel.
“I felt huge pain for this terrible disaster that befell us, but together with that, I felt a huge pride to represent our people who rose from the ashes in our independent state,” the prime minister said.
Netanyahu drew references to anti-Semitism rising around the world and in the U.S., hinting at the recent caricature published in the New York Times. “The publication of caricatures of hate towards Israel undermines the legitimacy of the Jewish state,” he said.
After Netanyahu’s speech, Holocaust survivor Bela Eizenman lit the first torch at the ceremony, followed by Shaul Lubovitz, Fanny Ben-Ami, Menachem Haberman, Sara Shapira, and Yehuda Mimon. Inspiring films describing their heroic survival during the Holocaust and the large families they raised in its wake were played before each one in turn lit a memorial torch.
A two-minute-long siren sounded throughout the country on Thursday at 10 a.m., during which the entire country stood in unison in a moment of silence in memory of the six million Holocaust victims.
In a related development, World Israel News has reported that a far-right faction of Poland’s parliament, Kukiz 15, chose Holocaust Remembrance Day to submit a bill to protect Poland against Jewish restitution claims for the Holocaust.
On Tuesday, punk rock musician turned politician Paweł Kukiz, who founded Kukiz 15, after doing surprisingly well in his 2015 run for president, posted on Facebook that “in order to protect Poland as much as possible against possible Jewish claims resulting from U.S. law 447, we are submitting a bill for the protection of property of the Republic of Poland against claims regarding non-hereditary property.”
Mr. Kukiz refers to the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act, passed by the U.S. Congress in 2017, which “requires the Department of State to report to Congress assessing the national laws and enforceable policies of covered countries regarding the identification and return of, or restitution for, assets wrongfully seized or transferred during the Holocaust era.”
Kukiz 15 appears to be playing on Polish fears regarding the section of the law that deals with “the restitution of heirless property to assist needy Holocaust survivors.”
The Jewish Press quotes Polish news website wyborcza.pl, which says “the 447 right-wing law adopted by the U.S. Congress scares voters in Poland. … it serves to demand in the future compensation from the Polish state for real estate lost during World War II by Polish Jews. It is to apply to property for which there are no claims from former owners or their heirs.”
Kukiz 15 holds about 30 seats in the Sejm, Poland’s lower house of parliament. It won 42 percent among voters aged 18 to 29 in the 2015 presidential election. (TPS & World Israel News)
Read more at: worldisraelnews.com & Tazpit Press Service