TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday slammed western powers during his speech on Holocaust Remembrance Day, saying that Allied powers knew of the atrocities happening to Jews in death camps and had they have acted on that knowledge they would have saved the lives of four million Jews and millions of others.
The prime minister cited newly released documents from the UN that show the Allied forces were aware of the extent of the Holocaust in 1942 – two and half years earlier than previously assumed.
It was a “chilling revelation,” Netanyahu said.
“If the powers in 1942 had acted against the death camps — and all that was needed was repeated bombing of the camps — had they acted then, they could have saved four million Jews and millions of other people,” he said at the official state Yom HaShoah ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
“When terrible crimes were being committed against the Jews, when our brothers and sisters were being sent to the furnaces,” he said, “the powers knew and did not act.”
According to Netanyahu, the Holocaust was the result of three elements coming together: a deep hatred of the Jews, global apathy to the horrors that occurred, and “the terrible weakness of our people in the Diaspora.”
Anti-Semitism had not disappeared, and neither was it likely to in the foreseeable future, he said. It was made worse by Iran and the Islamic State, he added. This was to be the only mention of the Islamic republic in his speech, a marked departure from previous years in which he would single out Iran several times.
Global indifference was still alive today too, Netanyahu said.
“True, since World War II there has not been a tragedy similar in scope to the Holocaust,” he said. “But there are many cases where the world stood aside and did not prevent genocide or mass murder: in Biafra, Cambodia, Rwanda, Sudan and also in Syria.”
He noted one “ray of light” in the “determined response of President [Donald] Trump to the slaughter of Syrian children with chemical weapons.”
However, one element that had changed was that the Jews were no longer weak. “The weak do not have much chance of survival,” he said. “The strong survive; the weak are wiped out … our people learned this in the Holocaust.”
“We replaced the weakness with strength; from a helpless people we turned into a strong nation; from a nation without defense we turned into a state with a defense force, one of the strongest in the world.”
The lesson of the Holocaust, he said, “is that we must be able to defend ourselves, by ourselves, against any threat, against any enemy.”
He warned that “those who plan to annihilate us are placing themselves in danger of annihilation.”
He added that this was neither a provocation nor an exaggeration, but rather “the only way to truly ensure our future.”