Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel

Today marks Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel. The date is different from the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was determined by the day the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated.

In Israel, Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed on the 27th day of Nisan (according to the Hebrew calendar) which falls between Passover and Israel Independence day. The date symbolizes the spiritual connection between the Exodus from Egypt and the rebirth of the Jewish state of Israel on the 5th of Iyar.

But 80 years after the Holocaust, it is clear that it is not purely Jewish matter. The Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis on Jews is a one-time event unparalleled in human history. But the message that remains is universal: NEVER AGAIN.

When I stand by the border with Syria and know that 80 miles from it the Syrians were massacred by their president with gas I can not help but think of NEVER AGAIN.

The world stood aside and half of the Syrian population lost its home. About half a million people perished in this war. And tens of thousands more in similar wars that have been taking place across the Middle East in the last decade: in Iraq, Yemen, Libya, and more.

When I look at this reality in the Middle East, the feelings I was brought up on become stronger – to survive in this neighborhood you have to be strong. The State of Israel is the guarantee for the existence of the Jewish people.

When I stood a decade ago as an IDF officer on a visit to Auschwitz as part of an official military delegation, those feelings were stronger than ever. That day there was a terrorist attack by global jihadists from the Egyptian border and Israelis were killed. An Israeli woman soldier shot and killed a terrorist, preventing more damage.

We stepped into Auschwitz with our heads held high. The recognition that Israeli soldiers are now marching on the railroad that sent millions of Jews to their deaths is a very strong feeling. Our ancestors survived. We won. There is no room for dark ideologies.

But when I see the repeated threats of the Iranian leadership – military and political – to destroy the State of Israel and its proxy on Israel’s northern borders, I think again of NEVER AGAIN.

This sense of existential threat has shaped Israel’s security policy over the years. Although the State of Israel has come a long way, much work remains to be done. Both inside Israeli society and politics and outside our borders to bring security to the Jewish people.

For me, the establishment of the Alma Center is my humble contribution to NEVER AGAIN
Both in the struggle against the enemies of Israel and in conveying this message to the whole world.

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Sarit Zehavi

Sarit Zehavi

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