The world knew about the Holocaust and did nothing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said from the Auschwitz death camp Thursday, vowing that Israel would take matters into its own hands to prevent a second Holocaust.
“The Allied leaders knew about the Holocaust as it was happening. They understood perfectly what was taking place in the death camps. They were asked to act, they could have acted, and they did not,” said Netanyahu. “For us Jews, the lesson is clear. We must not stand idle before the threats of annihilation. We must not bury our heads in the sand, or let others do our work. From here, the place that provides testimony for the will to eradicate us, I, the prime minister of Israel, the Jewish state, tell all the nations of the world: The State of Israel will do whatever is necessary to prevent a second Holocaust.”
The prime minister was speaking at the opening of a new pavilion at Block 27 of the former Nazi death camp, designed to educate visitors about the Holocaust and Nazi Germany’s quest to exterminate Jews.
The exhibition was curated by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum. It aims to detail the backdrop of the Holocaust, the Nazi ideology for murder and the physical and spiritual struggle of its victims. It includes survivor testimonies and victims’ names.
Netanyahu, whose father was born in Warsaw, has an emotional connection to the Holocaust, although he has faced criticism for citing it frequently in the context of current events, notably regarding the potential nuclear threat from Iran. For years, Netanyahu has used his annual address on Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day to caution about the danger of a nuclear Iran and vowing that “never again” will the Jews be powerless to defend themselves.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Netanyahu insisted the intentions of the Iranians are just as murderous as the Nazis and their helpers.
“The comparison is intentional. Does Iran want to destroy the state of Israel, first and foremost its Jews? The answer is yes,” he said in response to a question from The Associated Press. “Here is where the comparison diverges, since there was no State of Israel back then that could defend itself. The difference is not in the hatred of Jews and the will to destroy them. This is something that is pretty consistent in history and even modern history. The Holocaust didn’t change this situation.”
Netanyahu said the upcoming “so-called” Iranian presidential election would “change nothing” in the Islamic republic’s quest for nuclear weapons and that the regime would continue to pursue a bomb aimed at destroying Israel. Iran insists its uranium enrichment program has only peaceful goals.
“This is a regime that is building nuclear weapons with the expressed purpose to annihilate Israel’s 6 million Jews,” Netanyahu said. “We will not allow this to happen. We will never allow another Holocaust.”