News Digest — 4/28/22

Holocaust Remembrance Day Opens With Ceremony At Yad Vashem

Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day opened with the official state ceremony in Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad Vashem, on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem.  President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett delivered remarks.

“My brothers and sisters, the Holocaust is an unprecedented event in human history.  I bother to say this because as the years go by, there is more discourse in the world that compares other difficult events to the Holocaust.  But no, even the most difficult wars today are not the Holocaust and are not like the Holocaust,” said Bennett.

“No event in history, cruel as it may have been, equals the extermination of European Jews by the Nazis and their aides,” added Bennett.  “The case of the extermination of the Jews is different.  Never, anywhere else and at no other time, has one people acted to destroy another, in such a planned, systematic way, out of absolute ideology and not out of utilitarianism.”

The prime minister stressed that “at the end of the war, the Nazis preferred to invest in the extermination of Jews, even when it robbed them of energy and resources from war efforts.”

“What brought them to this?  Why is the Holocaust the ultimate, absolute expression of thousands of years of anti-Semitism?  Why is there anti-Semitism?” asked Bennett.  “How is it that over 3,500 years ago Pharaoh decided to exterminate all the Hebrew males?  And 1,000 years later Haman wanted to exterminate all the Jews.?  And why did Britain expel and kill its Jews 700 years ago?  And 500 years ago Spain went on the same path, and 350 years ago, so it was in Yemen.  What is the motive, what is the reason for all these events.?  The answer is there is none.  There is no reason for antisemitism.”

“Hatred is an easy emotion to manipulate and inflame.  It is one of the darkest cornerstones of the human soul that can, at times, explode with blindness.  If it didn’t exist, all my problems would go away,” said Bennett

“Antisemitism wears a different guise every time it appears.  Every time we allow ourselves to believe that we have transitioned to a new age, one that is liberal and modern, one that is void of Jew-hatred, reality alerts us to the truth.”

“We need to rely only on ourselves; to be strong and not apologize for our existence or for our successes.  We built a strong Jewish state that is flourishing.  Israel must remain strong.  Forever.”

“The Jewish nation can exist in the diaspora and dream of Jerusalem, but at the end of the day the true and natural existence of our nation can only happen in the physical location of our ancestral homeland – here – in the Land of Israel.”

Bennett addressed the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (1943), an effort he said is considered one of the greatest exhibitions of Jewish bravery.

“What is discussed far less about the uprising,” he said, “is the fact that when they fought, they did not fight as one unified body, but as competing Jewish factions that did not work together.  I struggle to understand what  kept them from uniting in such a terrible fight.”

“My brothers and sisters, we cannot let the same divisive spirit break Israel up from the inside today,” Bennett concluded.

Yad Vashem Council Chairman Rabbi Israel Meir Lau kindled the  memorial torch, and Moshe Meron spoke on behalf of the survivors.

At 10 a.m. on Thursday (28th), a two-minute siren was heard across Israel in memory of the six million dead, followed by a ceremony at Warsaw Ghetto Square at Yad Vashem in the presence of the president, prime minister, speaker of the Knesset, and president of the Supreme Court.



Dani Dayan: ‘Israel Is The Guarantee There Will Never Be Another Holocaust’

With Holocaust Remembrance Day being observed Wednesday evening (27th) and Thursday (28th), Yad Vashem Chairman Dani Dayan told Israel National News about his feelings observing Yom Hashoah for the first time as the Holocaust  Memorial’s chair.

“In some sense, it feels like my first Yom Hashoah in my first year in Israel back in 1971 when I arrived in Israel a few months earlier as a teenager,” Dayan said.  There are not many things that encapsulate it as much as the fact that you live in a Jewish state and the sirens sound in the entire country, which comes to a standstill in order to remember the six million Jews that were killed in the Holocaust.”

“Now I also have a feeling that I have the responsibility for Holocaust remembrance on my shoulders,” he added.  “I definitely feel the burden.  I’m talking about leading Holocaust remembrance into a new era that unfortunately we are approaching for natural reasons.  The number of survivors is dwindling and we have to begin to prepare Holocaust remembrance for an era in which no actual witnesses will be among us.”

When asked about bringing international state officials and dignitaries to Yad Vashem and what his message would be to them about the establishment of the State of Israel, Dayan said: “The State of Israel was established in spite of the Holocaust, and not because of it.  If the Holocaust had not occurred, we would be a much stronger, secure country with more Jews.  I would prefer very much that before dignitaries come to Yad Vashem, that they would visit for instance Theodor Herzl’s grave, because that is the reason Israel exists, our right over the land and the Zionist Movement.”

He explains how he speaks to visiting dignitaries.

“I talked to a dignitary this morning about Israel, the president of the German Bundestag – it was a very sensitive thing.”  I said, that, “yes, Israel is the guarantee that there will be no more St Louises, a ship during the Holocaust full of Jewish refugees that was denied entry to the U.S., Canada and Cuba and forced to turn back to Europe.  If God forbid, there is another ship like that, it will have a safe haven port in Israel.”

When asked about the War in Ukraine and comparisons being made with the Holocaust, Dayan said that “indeed you can’t compare it – there is nothing similar to the Holocaust, not even other genocides.”

“There have been other genocides but the Holocaust is something much bigger – it is something that included genocide but much more.  It was a complete machine of trying to erase the memory of the Jewish people.  There are war crimes in Ukraine but the Holocaust is on a level by itself.”

“I believe that the six million Jews that were murdered in the Holocaust are entitled to an institution – Yad Vashem – dedicated exclusively to them.  Nevertheless we condemned the invasion of Ukraine and the war crimes being done there.  Both the Russians and the Ukrainians dragged Holocaust rhetoric into the conflict – ‘Nazification’ and things like that.  However, we cannot stay quiet about scenes in Kyiv and Kharkiv because those scenes are crime scenes and look like some scenes that Holocaust survivors could remember.” 



Yad Vashem To Dedicate Holocaust Memorial Center In Northern Israel

Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center Chairman Dani Dayan on Wednesday (27th) announced plans to dedicate a Holocaust Memorial Center in northern Israel.

This would be the first initiative of its kind since Yad Vashem was built in Jerusalem in 1953.

Some $5 million have been earmarked for the center’s construction in Nof HaGalil.  Once opened, it will operate as a museum by a permanent staff trained by Yad VaShem and will do documentation, research and education activities pertaining to the Holocaust.

According to Dayan, setting up such a center in northern Israel translates the museum’s policy regarding ensuring the entire population has access to documents and commemoration of the Holocaust.

Nof HaGalil Mayor Ronen Plot said the center “will make the commemoration of the Holocaust accessible to both residents and visitors to the area and it will help instill the memory of the Holocaust and its meaning for future generations.”



On Eve Of Yom Hashoah Muslims On Temple Mount Call To Massacre Jews

Muslims gathering on the Temple Mount on Wednesday night (27th) for the Laylat al-Qadr events marched while calling for the massacre of Jews as the State of Israel commenced with events marking Yom Hashoah, its national Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Waving Hamas and PLO flags, the thousands of marchers chanted slogans in support of the Hamas terror organization, shouting “in spirit and in blood we will redeem Al-Aqsa,” and “Khyber, Khyber al-Yahud” an explicit call for the massacre of Jews as occurred in the Khyber Battle in 629.

The police, who deployed some 3,000 officers to secure the event, did not respond.

The police stated that its boosted deployment “to maintain public peace and security” enabled tens of thousands of Muslim worshipers to reach the Temple Mount to perform their prayers safely and the various prayers were held in order.  Police estimate that between 150,000-250,000 Muslims visited the Temple Mount Wednesday (27th).

Early Thursday morning (28th), after the Fajr prayers and during the dispersal of the worshipers, several dozens rioters disturbed the order, but were confronted by police with riot dispersal means and were stopped.

At the Western Wall, Border Police were seen acting to repel rioters from throwing rocks at Jews praying at the plaza below.

Member of Knesset Ofir Sofer stated in response to the events at the Temple Mount that “during the important holiday for the Muslims, they exploit the Temple Mount plaza and mosques for the benefit of incitement and violence.  If this is the religious worship of the Muslims, the State of Israel should close the mountain to the ‘religious worship’ of the Muslims.”

“This is not how a holy place is treated.  History has taught us that disregard and denial are not solutions,” he added, apparently alluding to the Holocaust.

MK Itamar Ben Gvir stated that “the heart explodes when we hear the shouts of profanity on the Temple Mount, the holiest place for the Jewish people, and the call to annihilate Israel on the day we commemorate the six million who perished in the Holocaust by the Nazis.  Sadly, we realize how much Israel is on the verge of disaster.”

He said, that “Even on Holocaust Day, the police are unable to make arrests and disperse the rioters.”

The country’s security establishment is bracing for further violence, especially for the last Friday (29th) of Ramadan prayers and the soon-coming end of Ramadan.  



Druze Population In Israel Has Grown Tenfold Since 1948

The Druze population in Israel was approximately 149,000 at the end of 2021, more than a tenfold increase since the founding of the State of Israel, with 14,500 in 1949, according to a report published by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) on the occasion of the Nabi Shu’ayb Druze Festival.

The Druze population has grown over the years mainly due to natural increase and the annexation of the Golan Heights in 1981.  The Druze community comprises 1.6% of Israel’s total population and 7.5% of Israel’s Arab population.

The Druze, a religious minority in Israel, are known for their military courage and dedication to the State of Israel.  About 85% of Israel’s male Druze population joins the Israeli military, and many continue their service beyond their release dates.

The Druze’s religion is rooted in Ismailism, a branch of Shiite Islam.  Communities are mostly found in Syria, Lebanon and Israel.

In 2021, approximately 38,000 households, 1.4%  of the total number of households in Israel – were headed by a Druze member.  Of these households, 76.8% were employed – a number higher than that of the Muslims, 71.0%. 

In the 2021/22 school year, 3,574 Druze were employed as teaching staff in the Israeli education system.  During the 2021/22 academic year, there were 175 Druze academic teaching staff members at institutions of higher education.

Of the total number of Druze students in the 2020/21 academic year, 73.1% were studying for their first degree; 20.6% were studying for their second degree; and 1.5% were studying for their third degree.