The end of the war

May 8, 2015 Agencies
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Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations have both delivered important speeches on the 70th anniversary marking the end of WWII.

Addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations, Ambassador Ron Prosser said:

Ambassador Ron Prosser addresses the UN General Assembly    Photo: Israel Mission to the UN, New York

Ambassador Ron Prosser addresses the UN General Assembly                               Photo credit : Israel Mission to the UN, New York

Before I begin, I want to thank Ambassador Dapkiunas and the government of Belarus for the special tree planting ceremony that took place earlier.

Seventy-five years ago, at the dawn of the Second World War, Europe was locked in the grip of tyranny. Hitler’s Reich had already conquered huge swaths of Europe and the shadow of oppression grew day by day as the Nazis subjugated, devastated, and exterminated anyone they deemed different and inferior.

With the forces of fascism advancing, the Allied forces knew they had no choice but to liberate Europe from the grip of tyranny. History and circumstance called for bravery and a generation of men and women answered the call. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, they fought on the beaches, they fought on the landing grounds, they fought in the fields and in the streets, they fought in the hills; they never surrendered.

We owe our freedom to the courage and determination of the Allied armies – the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, Canada, France, and other countries – that fought to restore freedom to Europe. The nations that joined together to defeat the Nazis did not always agree, but despite their political differences they knew that evil had to be stopped.

The losses were immense – the Russians alone lost over 20 million people. It was a terrible price to pay. They stood up to the forces of nature and stood up to the Nazi’s evil human nature. The people of Israel will never ever forget the bravery and sacrifices made by the Russian people. Today we honor all those who made victory possible. Some of those people – the veterans – are here with us today. We also mourn the tens of millions of victims of history’s darkest hour.

Mr. President,

For Israel and the Jewish people, World War II is synonymous with the Holocaust. Families were torn apart, vibrant communities destroyed, and one-third of the Jewish people – including one million children – were murdered. We are still haunted by the devastation. The numbers tattooed on the arms of our parents and grandparents are an enduring reminder of the horrors that they suffered – of a time when a person was a number rather than someone’s father or brother or son.

The hands of time now threaten to cloud the world’s memory. With every passing year, the number of survivors, veterans, and witnesses left to recount their first-hand experiences diminishes. And so the responsibility falls to us to ensure that the lessons of history are passed to future generations.

Mr. President,

Freedom is once again under attack. The radical Islamists marching across the Middle East and North Africa are every bit as determined and dangerous as the Nazi forces that marched across Europe.

Seventy-five years ago men, women, and children were rounded up and murdered because of what they believed, where they came from, how they looked, and whom they loved. The same crimes are taking place in the Middle East. Activists and political opponents are being silenced, homosexuals are being hanged, and Christians are being beheaded.

Make no mistake, evil is alive and well – and not just in the Middle East. In the heart of civilized Europe, angry mobs can be heard chanting “Gas the Jews,” firebombs have been thrown at synagogues, young men are afraid to walk down the street wearing a kippah, and a kosher grocery store is targeted for attack.

The writing is on the wall. Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin once said, “If an enemy… says he seeks to destroy us, believe him. Don’t doubt him for a moment.”

History has taught us that Jewish lives can never be entrusted to another people or another nation. We must always be able to defend ourselves by ourselves. The State of Israel is the fulfillment of that promise. Never again will Jews be rounded up like cattle and marched to their death.  Never again will the world think that Jews can be targeted with impunity.

Mr. President,

We know the evil that man is capable of and we know that some things are worth fighting for.
Freedom is worth fighting for. Equality is worth fighting for. Democracy is worth fighting for.

Seventy years ago, a generation of men and women sacrificed in war so that we would inherit freedom, equality, and democracy. We cannot allow those sacrifices to be in vain. With courage and conviction we must now fight for the ideals for which they lived and died.

General Douglas Macarthur once said: “We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph, and from both we have learned there can be no turning back. We must go forward to preserve in peace what we won in war.”

The time has come for us to be united in purpose, united in valor, and united as nations – so that we too may pass the gifts of freedom, equality, and democracy to our children and grandchildren.

Thank you, Mr. President.

In Israel President Reuven Rivlin addressed an official state ceremony marking seventy years since the victory of the Allied forces over Nazi Germany.  The ceremony was dedicated to the Jewish servicemen and women who fought and served in the Allied armies.

 The President said, “We mark here this evening seventy years since the victory of the free world, over the Nazi beast, and pay tribute to the Jewish fighters who played a part in this victory.  Around one and a half million Jews served in the Second World War, around eight percent of the entire Jewish population, and around half a million of whom, fell in battle.  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.”

The President addressed the World War Two veterans attending the ceremony, and stressed the tremendous legacy they had left for their children and grandchildren.  He said, “We look to the past, and beyond you we see the faces of the Maccabees.  We look to the future and we see the faces of 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.  The soldiers of the IDF, who stand at the ready on our borders, who are right now providing assistance to the Nepalese people dealing with disaster, they are your grandchildren.  You have taught them the secret of heroism and humanity, the ethics of battle, and bravery.  Your tremendous valor, dear veterans, is deserving of a fitting commemoration.”

At the end of his address, the President stressed the national obligation to the swift completion and inauguration of the museum to commemorate the achievements and the sacrifice of the veterans.  The ceremony, held at the Latrun Tank Memorial (Yad LeShiryon), also included addresses by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, and IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot.

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