A subdued Israel will today mark Holocaust Remembrance Day with a series of events, which began yesterday evening with a state ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.
The event, broadcast live on Israeli television, began with the poignant lighting of six torches by six Holocaust survivors. At the ceremony, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lamented: “Seventy-one years ago the Nazi regime was stopped, but the antisemitism and the lies didn’t die with Hitler in the bunker in Berlin.”
He added that the fathers of Zionism had “hoped that if the Jews had a state of their own – the hatred towards them would pass away. Unfortunately, reality proves this optimistic assumption was manifestly erroneous.”
President Reuven Rivlin said at the event: “The State of Israel will deal with this antisemitism by ensuring, first and foremost, a national home and a Jewish army that protects the nation of survival. We will never be ashamed that we are willing to fight.”
He also addressed the dwindling number of Holocaust survivors, saying “it is time to conduct some soul-searching before you”. Rivlin asked them for “forgiveness” as “even today, the State of Israel does not take every measure it can in order to take care of the Holocaust survivors”.
At 10am (Israel time), a two-minute siren will be sounded across the country during which Israelis will stand in silence. This will signal the start of another ceremony at Yad Vashem during which wreaths will be laid by numerous dignitaries, from government, the foreign diplomatic corps and beyond.
Soon afterwards, the Knesset will begin its “Every Person Has a Name” ceremony, during which the names of those who perished in the Holocaust will be recited by Rivlin, Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor and others.
Across the country, schools and some work places will hold their own memorial ceremonies. All television and radio broadcasts are either suspended for the day or entail exclusively Holocaust-related programming.