OSWIECIM, Poland (JTA) — Israel is prepared to fight a new Amalek 65 years after the liberation of Auschwitz, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the former death camp.
At a ceremony Wednesday marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Netanyahu said Auschwitz is a reminder that one must warn the world of dangers while defending oneself.
"We will always remember what the Nazi Amalek did to us, and we won’t forget to be prepared for the new Amalek, who is making an appearance on the stage of history and once again threatening to destroy the Jews," he said. "We will not take this lightly and believe that these are empty statements. We will not be calm as if threats and denial of the Holocaust were just blank words. We will never forget and always remember to stand guard."
The nation of Amalek has been Israel’s nemesis since the Exodus from Egypt. Nations that have tried to destroy Israel often are referred to as descendants of Amalek.
International and Jewish leaders, Auschwitz survivors and Russian Red Army veterans who liberated the camp joined Netanyahu in warning not to forget what the Nazis perpetrated against humanity.
Polish President Lech Kaczynski and other Polish officials, the president of the European Parliament and several Israeli lawmakers were on hand for the ceremony.
It was one of several Holocaust Remembrance Day events held Wednesday in Poland. Others included an international conference for ministers of education at the concentration camp memorial site and the third annual "Let My People Live" forum at the Krakow opera house sponsored by the European Jewish Congress, the World Holocaust Forum and Yad Vashem.
Several speakers warned specifically against ignoring the words of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has denied the Holocaust and threatened Israel verbally.
Speaking at the "Let My People Live" forum, World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said Ahmadinejad’s words are reminiscent of Hitler’s and that unless we take these threats seriously, "we will have serious problems ahead."
Yad Vashem Chairman Rabbi Meir Lau, who survived Dachau and Buchenwald, said at the forum that "Leaders of the world, 65 years after the Holocaust, have to learn from my mother," who handed him to an older brother in hopes of saving his life. He was 7 years old and never again saw his mother.
"When there is a threat, danger of extinction of society, make a decision," Lau said. "Be brave enough, determined enough. Don’t hesitate."