This morning Israel came to a standstill. For two minutes this morning at 10 a.m. local time, a siren wailed throughout the nation. Israelis stood in silence and remembered the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust.
They stopped their cars and stood beside them. They stopped on sidewalks. They even stood inside busses.
You can watch the video we shot at one of Jerusalem’s busy intersections here:
Many remembered family members who died in what is also called in Hebrew the Shoah. The legacy and impact of the Holocaust throughout Israel is pervasive. There's probably not a family in Israel, or for that matter a Jewish family around the world, who hasn't been affected by this monumental inhumanity to man.
Last night I attended the ceremony at Yad Vashem, Israel's national Holocaust museum. Six survivors of the Holocaust lit six flames symbolizing the six million who died. Their stories were riveting. You can watch them here.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke and mentioned this stunning warning which I had never heard before by Zev Jabotinsky in 1938 to Jews in Warsaw:
"It is already THREE years that I am calling upon you, Polish Jewry, who are the crown of World Jewry. I continue to warn you incessantly that a catastrophe is coming closer. I became grey and old in these years, my heart bleeds, that you, dear brother and sisters, do not see the volcano which will soon begin to spit its all-consuming lava… I see that you are not seeing this because you are immersed and sunk in your daily worries… Listen to me in this twelfth hour: In the name of G-d! Let anyone of you save himself, as long as there is still time, and time there is very little."
Now 74 years later, Netanyahu is warning of the threat of another Holocaust:
"Not only does the Prime Minister of Israel have the right, when speaking of these existential dangers, to invoke the memory of a third of our nation which was annihilated. It is his duty … The truth is that a nuclear-armed Iran is an existential threat of the State of Israel. The truth is that a nuclear-armed Iran is an political threat to other countries throughout the region and a grave threat to the world peace.
The truth is that Iran must be stopped from obtaining nuclear weapons. It is the duty of the whole world, but above and beyond, it is OUR duty. The memory of the Holocaust goes beyond holding memorial services; it is not merely a historical recollection. The memory of the Holocaust obligates us to apply the lessons of the past to ensure the basis of our future. We will never bury our heads in the sand."
He ended his message with this Hebrew saying: Am Yisrael Chai, veNetzach Yisrael Lo Yeshaker (The nation of Israel lives, and the Eternal One of Israel does not lie).