Statement by Ambassador Dan Gillerman, Permanent Israeli Representative to the UN.
In Observance of the International Day of Commemoration
in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust
Let me start by saying, I, we, Israel, the Jewish people, I as representing of the State of Israel, my incredible mission that is still here, including a representative of the foreign ministry neither one of us takes this for granted. We are not taking for granted, Madame President, your incredibly passionate and emotional words, and coming from you as President of this General Assembly, and who you are and what you represent, have a meaning far beyond the words. And we are very grateful for that.
We are not taking for granted, Shashi, the fact that this is happening for the second time in such incredible surroundings and in such a wonderful atmosphere. And we appreciate very much the hard work, thought, creativity, and passion you have put into it. We don’t take any of that for granted either.
We don’t take for granted the presence here of many of my colleagues, Ambassadors, Permanent Representatives, of countries around the world. We don’t take that for granted either. Thank you for honoring us and gracing us with your presence.
We don’t take for granted the fact that we have in this Hall an officer of the Israeli army in uniform, which is actually saying to all of us, to Israel and the Jewish people, that we will indeed make sure that never ever again will this happen.
I certainly, having spent many so many days, so years and so hours in this Hall, do not take for granted the fact that the seats of this General Assembly, with all that it represents with all the vilification and condemnation Israel has received here, is today filled with hundreds of Holocaust survivors, of families of the victims. This is your day and please don’t take that for granted either.
Today we mark the second observance of the international day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust, a day which the international community established to show its global commitment to the eternal remembrance of the Holocaust – victims and survivors – and to ensure that genocide never again occurs.
The Holocaust dealt a devastating blow to mankind’s faith in the human experience. The Nazis’ assault on the sanctity of life, their brutal systematic murder of six million Jews, their depraved aspirations to wipe out an entire people, are some portraits of the harrowing reality which led the world to create this United Nations and adopt the principles enshrined in its Charter.
And yet today on this sixty-second anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz – a symbol of the darkest moments of human history – it remains clear that in parts of the world the lessons of Holocaust have not been learned.
Today, amid vivid memories of death camps and death marches, amid heroic survivors sharing stories of survival, amid shattered dreams still being rebuilt, a Member State of this world body threatens to wipe out another sovereign state off the map.
Today, that same Member State tries to rewrite history, denying the Holocaust, denying the Nazi genocide, denying the painful fate of six million Jews and others in Europe, denying the value of human life and the very founding principles of this world body. Its ranting President is in fact saying: “the Holocaust never happened, but just in case, we will finish the job.”
The Holocaust, my friends, is an emphatic truth. Its pain was and is real. But its implications are all too great to be carried solely by the Jewish people. Its lessons are universal, which is why the nations of the world supported a resolution on Holocaust remembrance last year and supported one on Holocaust denial unanimously, only two days ago.
We live in a world where anti-Semitism is rapidly rising, where hate fills children’s textbooks, where racism and xenophobia still run rampant, where spiritual and religious leaders incite to violence and preach animus of others simply because they are different.
We live in a world fractured by disagreement. Our ability to respond to peril is paralyzed by the inability, sometimes the unwillingness, to react, to rise above the divisions of politics and embrace the universality of values.
We live in a world that once saw the atrocities of Auschwitz and Birkenau, only to have seen later a Cambodia and a Rwanda, and which is now silently witnessing a Darfur.
The call must go forth from this General Assembly, from the houses of parliament, from the presidential palaces, and from the streets of capitals all across the world, that the lessons of the Holocaust and the memory of the Holocaust are not negotiable. They are part and parcel of the personal memory that must become, as the generation of the Holocaust gets more distant, our collective history. They are the essence of our shared, global values.
Committing ourselves to the eternal memory of the Holocaust means we must also chart the course beyond remembrance. It means an unqualified commitment to human rights and human dignity. It means educating children to love, not to hate. It means embarking on a mutual quest for tolerance and understanding. It means repairing our shattered world, together, as only a global community, united by common values, can.
Indeed, as the preamble to the United Nations Charter says:
“We the Peoples of the United Nations determined….to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small…”
Commemorating the Holocaust – paying respect to its victims, honoring the heroism of its survivors, saluting the liberating nations and their valiant soldiers, and focusing world attention on the horrors of genocide and denouncing those who deny that it can and did happen – stands at the core of what the United Nations means to us today.
It is our collective duty to ensure we remember and never allow any of this to be forgotten.
And lastly, ladies and gentlemen, allow me a personal word to the many survivors and families of the victims, who are gracing this hall here today.
This is for you. This day is yours, and this message is yours.
Your presence here today, filling this very Hall, where only 30 years ago Zionism was equated with racism, is the ultimate answer to all the evil rhetoric and the ultimate victory of good over evil. And it is from this podium and on this solemn day that I vow that as long as there is an Israel, and I vow there will forever be an Israel, you are not alone. You are safe.
And today here in this Hall and around the world the whole of the civilized world is vowing this vow together with you, together with Israel, and together with me.