Herzog: We said ‘never again’ but the horrors of the Holocaust echoed in the Oct. 7 massacre

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

President Isaac Herzog speaks at the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, May 5, 2024. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
President Isaac Herzog speaks at the annual Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, May 5, 2024. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Despite the comparisons that some have made between the horrors of the Holocaust and October 7, the Hamas massacre “wasn’t a Holocaust,” President Isaac Herzog declares during an address at the official state Yom Hashoah memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem.

“Throughout the decades that have passed since the Holocaust, we assured [ourselves] time after time: ‘Never again,’ and we swore that the Jewish people would never again stand defenseless and unprotected. And yet, despite all that, the horrors of the Holocaust shook us all during the October massacres, echoing in all our hearts,” Herzog says.

“To me as well, the descriptions of mothers silencing babies so they wouldn’t cry and give away their hiding place; of children torn from their parents; and of abominable murderers – who saw in the Nazis a model to emulate, and who, burnt, and butchered entire families – echoed the horrors among us,” but “it wasn’t a Holocaust — because the Holocaust was the deepest abyss in human history, in every measure,” Herzog says, adding that October 7 was “the day when the most Jews were murdered and slaughtered in one day since the Holocaust.”

“October 7th was not a Holocaust because today we have the State of Israel and the Israel Defense Forces. Although the results of the tragedy and the shock still haunt us; we don’t forget that what our brothers and sisters who perished in the Holocaust could only dream of, only imagine: a country and an army of our own. An army that even now fights in a battle that has not yet ended – for our national home. The home of national independence.”

“I say this with complete and absolute conviction — despite the disaster and mourning that still afflicts us: nothing can destroy this home,” he continues. “This people, our people, who endured the most terrible Holocaust of all, and built for themselves sovereignty in their homeland two millennia after being exiled from it by force — nothing can erase them.”

Insisting that Israelis not “allow divisiveness and factionalism to rule over us,” the president says that the “Israeli unity – rare, courageous, beautiful – that we saw in the past half-year, both on the frontline and in the home front, is our true character.”

“Our beloved Holocaust survivors — you are our eternal heroes. Your legacy is a legacy of resilience, of pride, of hope. You are the source of my unwavering belief that our people can overcome anything,” Herzog adds.

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