"Humanity has seen genocide since time immemorial. After the Holocaust, too: we've been witness to the genocide in Biafra, in Cambodia, in Rwanda. We have to raise an outcry against the genocide now being perpetrated in Darfur, Sudan. Meanwhile, the world sits with its arms folded, sending a few sacks of flour - not so much to feed the hungry as to salve its consciences.
The Holocaust, that we remember here today, at Yad Vashem, in Jerusalem, in Israel; the Holocaust, in which six million blameless Jews perished. The Holocaust, that was a singular event in history: for in the Holocaust, a primitive human beast used modern technological means to exterminate a people - deliberately, with scientific detachment, by industrializing death.
The viruses of that lethal disease called antisemitism have developed antibodies. No longer are they impressed by the lessons of the past, nor do they accept the norms of the present. Rather, they wait in anticipation of the day when evil will break out again. Skinheads march in Berlin, their arms raised in the Nazi salute. Hungarian fascists organize parades in the streets of Budapest. Muslim fanatics torch synagogues in France. "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" is sold in Japan, and television broadcasts in Cairo and Damascus show Jews drinking children's blood.
For Iran's president, the extermination of six million Jews wasn't enough. He thinks - and not only thinks, but believes - that in Israel there are still six million Jews too many. According to his plans, he will have means of destruction at his disposal, in comparison with which the gas chambers of Auschwitz are but a prelude.
Six million dead are speaking to us from beneath the ground. "We thought," they say to us, "that this couldn't happen. We depended upon the kindness of others. We believed that there's a limit to madness. And when we awoke from these delusions, it was already too late. Don't follow in our footsteps."
The civilized world advises us to be compliant, to compromise, and to take risks for the sake of giving peace a chance. And we ask the civilized world; we ask on Holocaust Remembrance Day, of all those who preach morality to us: And what will you do if we take those risks, and sacrifice victims, and place our trust in you - and something goes wrong? If the other side doesn't behave as it's expected to, but instead rains fire and brimstone down on us, and epidemics and poisons, and perhaps even nuclear weapons? What will you do then? Tell us: sorry, we were wrong? Send us bandages? Open orphanages for the children who survive? Pray for the eternal welfare of our immortal souls?
This is the message we are sending from here today, to the outside world: if you want to understand us, and if you want to know our motives, think about the Holocaust. Because we think about it every day, and also in our dreams. And if we say, "Never again" - what we mean is that we'll never again take risks. We won't have another Yad Vashem erected to our memory."
Translation by Dar Translations
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This address was delivered by Yosef (Tomy) Lapid on Sunday evening, April 15, 2007, at the official opening ceremony for Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem.