Israel is spending the day honoring Holocaust victims — those who survived, and those who perished — in the Nazi terror during World War II.
But an existential threat still faces Jews, even in 2014, say Israeli leaders.
At opening ceremonies in Warsaw Ghetto Square in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu both noted Iranian nuclear technology stands ready to leap into the next phase of weaponry if Israel relaxes its vigilance for only a moment.
“Iran is developing nuclear weapons. Today, as in the past, there are those who rationalize Iranian actions. Today, as in the past, those who think this are deluding themselves. This time too, the truth will lead the way,” the prime minister said.
“Iran wants a deal in which the sanctions are lifted, but the nuclear capabilities remain. A deal that allows Iran to remain on the threshold of nuclear power will leave the entire world on the precipice.
“I call on world powers to stand firm on the demand Iran dismantle its nuclear program.
“Today we do not fear making our case to presidents and prime ministers. Unlike during the Holocaust, when we were defenseless, today we have the power to defend ourselves.”
President Peres focused on the issue of anti-Semitism around the world, and its dangers to Jews who have yet to reach safety in Israel.
“We must not ignore any type of anti-Semitic phenomena, any desecration of a synagogue or smashing of a tombstone,” warned the president.
“We must also not overlook the rise of extreme right-wing parties with neo-Nazi leanings that are a danger for everyone and a warning for every nation. The State of Israel is the deterrent against the attempt to carry out another Holocaust,” he said.
“A strong Israel is our answer to the terror of anti-Semitism.”
Ceremonies throughout the country, including at the Knesset, Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, Yad Vashem and the Forest of the Martyrs were among the events at which survivors were honored.
The entire country came to a standstill, with people even stepping out of their cars to stand in the streets when a 2-minute siren sounded across the nation at 10:00 a.m. to honor those fallen and those who survived.
At 11:00 a.m. the names of the victims were read in an honor roll at a ceremony in the Knesset.
The annual March of the Living in Poland is set to start at 2:30 p.m. local time. Participants, including some 1,200 Israeli 11th grade high school students, are to walk from the Auschwitz concentration camp to the Birkenau death camp.
The solemn day will conclude with ceremonies at 7:00 p.m. at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai.