WASHINGTON (JTA) — The lesson of the Holocaust is never to be silent in the face of inhumanity, President Obama said.
"How do we ensure that ‘Never Again’ isn’t an empty slogan, or merely an aspiration, but also a call to action?" the president asked while speaking Thursday in the Capitol Rotunda at a commemoration organized by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. "I believe we start by doing what we are doing today — by bearing witness, by fighting the silence that is evil’s greatest co-conspirator."
Obama said that "evil has yet to run its course on earth," describing "mass graves and the ashes of villages burned to the ground, and children used as soldiers and rape used as a weapon of war" as well as Holocaust deniers.
He called the State of Israel a signal of hope.
"The hope of a chosen people who have overcome oppression since the days of Exodus; of the nation of Israel rising from the destruction of the Holocaust; of the strong and enduring bonds between our nations," Obama said.
The reference to Holocaust deniers might have been an allusion to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who at the last minute removed, at the urging of U.N. officials, what has become his routine Holocaust denial from a speech he delivered this week at a U.N. conference in Geneva.
Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor famed for his chronicles of the period, thanked Obama for boycotting the conference and joined Israeli U.S. Ambassador Sallai Meridor in describing the Iranian regime as the major threat to the Jews now.