Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Friday said Israel’s existence is not due to the Holocaust but because it is the ancient homeland of the Jewish people.
The comments came a day after the 80th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference, a meeting of senior Nazi officials by a Berlin lake that is seen as a key moment when Germany began implementing the plan to systematically round up and kill all Jews in Europe.
Bennett said that as prime minister, he was aware of the “tremendous responsibility” he has for “the existence of the Jewish state in the Land of Israel.”
“I don’t forget that at the moment of truth… that no one (except for rare exceptions) cared about the fate of our people. The world did not lift a finger,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
“The State of Israel isn’t ours ‘thanks to’ the Holocaust, but because the Land of Israel was, is still and will always remain the home of the Jewish people,” he added.
The premier said that a “strong, secure, independent, thriving, diverse, free and united” Israel was needed to “ensure the existence of the Jewish people.”
He also acknowledged deep differences among many Israelis, citing the country’s “countless arguments, [political] parties and opinions,” but said they have “one united heart.”
“Together we will safeguard our beloved country,” Bennett said.
The Wannsee Conference, led by security chief Reinhard Heydrich and recorded by fellow SS officer Adolf Eichmann, formalized the technical, administrative and economic details of what was dubbed “the final solution to the Jewish question.”
At his trial in Jerusalem in 1961, Eichmann told the court that the participants had been served “by butlers with cognac and other drinks” as they plotted the genocide.
The Nazis killed six million Jews in the Holocaust — more than a third of the world’s Jewish population at the time.
Agencies contributed to this report.