Claiming to follow in the footsteps of Jewish leaders in Europe who struggled to raise the alarm about Adolf Hitler’s plans to exterminate the Jews, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the opening ceremony for Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday night to warn against the dangers of an Iranian nuclear bomb.

Although many have criticized him for comparing the Tehran regime to the Nazis, Netanyahu said, he believes that preventing an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel is the best way to honor those who perished in the Holocaust.

“I know there are some who don’t like it when I express uncomfortable truths like these,” he said. “They would prefer that we not speak of a nuclear Iran as an existential threat. They claim that this statement, even if it is true, only spreads fear and panic,” he said.

“Those who dismiss the Iranian threat as a whim or an exaggeration have learnt nothing from the Holocaust,” he said.

“The memory of the Holocaust is not merely a matter of ceremony. It is not merely a matter of historical memory,” the prime minister said at the annual ceremony, at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. “The memory of the Holocaust is a command to learn the lessons of the past in order to ensure the future. We will never bury our heads in the sand.”

President Shimon Peres also recalled the Iranian threat, saying the Islamic Republic “stands at the center of threats against Israel. It is a center of terrorism. It poses a threat to the entire world.”

Therefore, Peres said, mankind “has no choice but to learn the lessons of the Holocaust: to stand up to existential threats, before it’s too late.”