PM Netanyahu's Remarks at the Dedication of a Plaque Honoring Diplomats Who
Saved Jews during the Holocaust
(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Monday, 5 February 2018), at the
Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, attended the dedication of a plaque honoring
diplomats who saved Jews during the Holocaust. The plaque honors the work of
36 diplomats, from 21 countries, who have been recognized as Righteous Among
Following is an excerpt of Prime Minister Netanyahu's remarks:
"Six million of our brothers and sisters were slaughtered in the worst
atrocity in history.
And this is what makes the people who are honored here so exceptional.
Because in the worst darkness that beset the Earth, they lit a candle of
righteousness. Yad Vashem calls them, these men and women, Righteous Among
I once visited, when I went to serve in the UN, I went to visit the
Lubavitcher Rebbe, and he had some criticism of the UN. He said it doesn't
always represent the truth, and now I'm really polishing what he said. He
said, but remember that if you light a small candle of truth, its glow will
carry far and wide. These people lit candles of truth and candles of
humanity in the sea of darkness and we shall forever remember them.
This plaque that we dedicate today recognizes these brave diplomats, who
acted by the dictates of their conscience without regard for personal and
When Esther Ofiri's mother took her from an attic in Hungary to the Swedish
delegation, a young diplomat listened to her mother's pleas and immediately
responded, don't worry, soon we'll give you protective passes. And that man
was Raoul Wallenberg, a hero among heroes. On July 9th, 1944, Wallenberg
arrived in Budapest to serve at the Swedish embassy, and when he realized
how many Jews needed his help, he threw diplomatic caution to the wind, he
worked tirelessly to save Jews, he issued thousands of protective letters
and placed the Swedish flag, he placed the Swedish flag over buildings
housing Jews. It's almost like Moses in Egypt. He claimed that columns of
Jews who had been marched to the Austrian border were under Swedish
There are lesser known heroes. They are all on this wall and they should be
known. We should teach our people, I think all of humanity, their courage
and example, diplomats like Captain Francis Foley of the United Kingdom and
Ho Feng-Shan of China and the others. They deserve to be household names.
It's a matter of justice, but it's also a matter of educating future
generations. So we chose to place this plaque with these brave diplomats'
names here in a prominent place of our Foreign Ministry, because these are
the kind of people we ask our young diplomats to emulate. Men and women of
boundless courage, men and women of the deepest moral character. By the way,
many of them were castigated by their foreign ministries and for many of
them their career came to a swift end. But they risked everything for the
truth and the first thing is establishing the truth. It wasn't easy to do
that because the truth was hidden by iron curtains of lies and deception.
The truth is not always easy to establish today either by different means,
but the first thing they wanted to establish was the truth. Once they
learned the truth, they risked everything for our common humanity, and for
that, we and history will justly remember them as heroes.
The truth about the Holocaust must always be studied. It must always be
remembered. Israel works closely with our partners around the world to
defend and reveal the truth about the Holocaust. We expect to do that with
every country, including Poland. Above all, future generations must
internalize the lessons of the Holocaust. I think the most important lesson
for all humanity is that hatred, extreme ideologies, these must always be
confronted early when there is time to nip them at the bud.
We Jews have learned to believe our enemies when they call for our
annihilation. We’ve learned that we must be able to defend ourselves by
ourselves against any potential threat. The State of Israel not only has
internalized these lessons, it practices it. We hold our hand out to peace
for any of our neighbors who wish peace with us, and there are quite a few,
and their number is growing, I'm happy to say, and I hope it will extend to
all. But we are forever conscious of the danger to us and to the rest of
mankind of those who want to exterminate us, ultimately they exterminate the
world we all want to keep and cherish.
But in my people's darkest hour, a few noble men and women bucked their
superiors to save Jewish lives. Israel saluted them. We shall forever honor
Before the dedication, Prime Minister Netanyahu attended a conference of
Israeli ambassadors to African, Latin American and Asia-Pacific countries.
He briefed them on Israel's strengths and the diplomatic ties stemming
therefrom. "With our economic policy, we have turned Israel into a global
technological force and therefore it is now a rising global power. My
expectation is that each one of you, in your respective countries, will
leverage these ties," the Prime Minister said.