Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with USMC General Joseph Dunford, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and World War II military heroes on Monday, the 70th anniversary of VE Day – the Allied victory over Nazi Germany in 1945.
The lessons learned and the high price paid by those who fought, Netanyahu said, were engraved upon the minds of those who defend the State of Israel today.
He particularly focused on the existential threat now posed to Israel by the Islamic Republic of Iran — an ongoing threat he has emphasized in nearly every speech one way or the other over the past decade.
It was also a message he shared last Thursday evening, when he stood with President Reuven Rivlin to honor WWII Jewish war veterans from the U.S., Britain and Russia in a special ceremony held at the IDF memorial in Latrun.
The lesson learned from the Second World War and the Holocaust, Netanyahu said Thursday, “was that we must be capable, prepared and able to defend ourselves by ourselves against any threat. That is the lesson of 70 years since the victory over Nazism.”
Rivlin told the gathering that some 1.5 million Jews served in WWII, totaling about eight percent of the worldwide Jewish population. Of those, half a million fell in battle, he said somberly.
“Jewish servicemen fell as submarine commanders, fighter pilots, tank and infantry commanders, in the engineers and artillery corps, riflemen and regular soldiers. In every branch of the military, of each army which fought against the Nazis, were found decorated and dedicated Jewish heroes.
“No political affiliation, and no Jewish community was absent from the war.”
Rivlin said the veterans at the ceremony were links in the generational chain connecting history’s Maccabees to the Jewish heroes of today, the “soldiers and commanders of the Israel Defense Forces.
“You are all links in the intricate chain of Jewish heroes, whose roots are in the pages of the Bible, and whose responsibility today, is to the defense of the people and land of Israel.”