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Thursday, January 27, 2011
Minister Yuli Edelstein Speech in Brussels for International Holocaust Remembrance Day

When the Protocols of Zion's Elders and Mein Kampf become bestsellers in
Arab bookshops from Ramallah to London, and the Jewish institutions and
houses of worship are targeted by the messengers of hate - do we explain
this away by the "grievances" and "rage" and blame the victims?

Jerusalem, 27 January 2011


Following is the speech delivered by Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs
Minister Yuli Edelstein in Brussels, Tuesday evening, 25.1.11, at a special
event marking the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In the spring of 1939 George the VI, King of England and Emperor of India,
instructed his private secretary to write to British Foreign Secretary Lord
Halifax, having learnt that "a number of Jewish refugees from different
countries were surreptitiously getting into Palestine".

The King was "glad to learn that steps are being taken to prevent these
people leaving their country of origin".

Halifax's office telegraphed Britain's ambassador in Berlin asking him to
encourage the German government "to check the unauthorized emigration" of

Today the apologists for the King explain that he was not an anti-Semite. To
prevent Jewish immigration to Palestine was an official government policy,
they say. It was made with the British interest in mind - to pacify Arab
Muslim resistance to the Zionist movement.

Indeed- this policy- as we know now, was a resounding success. Millions of
Jews didn't escape their "countries of origin", except with the smoke of the
crematorium chimneys.

On behalf of the many millions of victims of the Holocaust- many of whom
could be saved if allowed to leave Europe to Palestine or elsewhere- I would
like to begin my address by asking one simple question –what have we

Who cares if those who have the power to prevent genocide, to save lives,
don't do it because they are biased or racist, or just because they are
indifferent and selfish- if in the end the result is all the same?!

A distinction without a difference IS NO DIFFERENCE.

The Holocaust did not begin with concentration camps. It began with a brick
thrown through the window of a Jewish business, the desecration of a
Synagogue, words of hate spewed on the street. Hitler was able to carry out
his plans because too many good men decided to turn their heads, to look the
other way, to distance themselves from the pain and suffering of their
neighbors – and to rationalize away the barbarity of racial persecution that
was unraveling right before their eyes, for the entire world to see.

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel identifies one character trait as the root
cause which allowed the Holocaust to occur: indifference. For only in a
state of indifference are "light and darkness, dusk and dawn, crime and
punishment, cruelty and compassion, good and evil confused. Indifference
allows you to look away from victims. It is, after all, awkward,
troublesome, to be involved in another person's pain and despair. For the
person who is indifferent, his or her neighbors are of no consequence".

When the mayor of a prosperous Swedish Malme town informs his Jewish
citizens that he can't protect them from the anti-Semitic violence and they
should leave - to what purpose shall we put all those noble words at all
those Holocaust memorials?

When the Protocols of Zion's Elders and Mein Kampf become bestsellers in
Arab bookshops from Ramallah to London, and the Jewish institutions and
houses of worship are targeted by the messengers of hate - do we explain
this away by the "grievances" and "rage" and blame the victims?

To me, a child of Holocaust survivors, a prisoner of conscience in the
Soviet GULAG, and to my Jewish brethren in Israel and beyond, the lessons of
this horrible calamity are as clear today as they were 66 years ago on this
day, when the gates of Auschwitz opened before the Red Army and the massacre

Jews should be united, Jews should be independent, and Jews should be armed
and ready to fight.

The State of Israel stands today as a guarantee that no kings, no ministers,
no policies will doom the Jews again, that there always will be a gate that
is open and a beacon that shines friendly.

That is what "Never again" means, ladies and gentlemen. It means lesson

It's 2011 now, and we're living a nightmare in which a bigoted fanatic with
a mentality of a gangster, having violently subdued his own people,
relentlessly pursues the ultimate weapon, threatens genocide and violence
and spreads the tentacles of conspiracy, war and murder wherever he can.

Watching the gruesome spectacle of the representatives of civilized world,
desperate to avoid, postpone, delay the inevitable, trying to "engage" with
a bloodthirsty barbarian, we have new doubts that the lessons of the last
World War are not forgotten outside our borders.

But let no one here doubt our commitment – against those who openly promise
today "to finish what Hitler had started", with grim determination and iron
resolve, we will defend our Jewish commonwealth to the final victory.

But what about the lesson to the world?

Not so long ago, the heart of Europe was convulsed again in the slaughter of
innocents in Bosnia and Kosovo, and again, when the salvation came, it was
too late for too many. In Africa, Middle East, Asia we've been conditioned
to accept as a way of life not only genocide, but poverty, disease,
starvation, corruption, dictatorship, terrorism and religious fanaticism
which shame our common humanity.

And we allow this to go on – in the name of politics, interests or even
misguided "progressive" ideology of multiculturalism and anti colonialism,
when in fact it is really all about indifference.

Those, after all, are "quarrels in a far-away countries between people of
whom we know nothing".

But today's world is really too small for the sentiment of Munich. Those who
won't bother to stop the faraway genocide will have to contend with waves of
the desperate refugees, who fear nothing and have nothing to lose. Those who
will not stop the spreading of religious bigotry and hatred, fuelled by oil
money and the culture of oppression, will be forced to choose between
humiliating needs of security and the morbid fear of suicide bomber.

So let this grave occasion, on which we remember the day when the massacre
ended and the reckoning began, be the day when we commit ourselves to the
world where indifference to the crime is as abhorrent as the crime itself.

Let us never again be passive and silent, cynical and calculating, when our
own humanity cries out to us from the killing fields of Rwanda, from the
streets of Iran, from the prisons of Burma.

Let us never accept that there's some policy goal which is more important
than the saving of lives. Let us recognize that evil does exist in the
world, and let us make it our common commitment to confront and defeat it
wherever we'll find it.

Jews, it is often said, are the canary in the coal mine of civilization.
Anytime, anywhere, if you let the poison of the anti-Semitism spread in the
air, the inevitable explosion will soon come. In its decision to recognize
the International Holocaust Memorial Day, the community of nations had
recognized that the remembrance of the victims of the largest genocide in
history is necessary so its lessons will be learned and applied globally.
Let us all strive to make it so. Let us build a world that is safer! Freer!
more just!

Let us really remember.

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