U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry issued statements for Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day, Yom HaShoah, which began on the eve of May 4 and continues through the day on May 5 with commemorations throughout the Jewish state.
“Today, on Yom HaShoah, we solemnly remember the six million Jews and the millions of others murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust,” a statement by Obama issued from the White House said.
“On this day, we honor the memory of the millions of individuals – the mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, friends and neighbors – who lost their lives during a time of unparalleled depravity and inhumanity. We reaffirm our ongoing responsibility as citizens and as a nation to live out the admonition, ‘Never forget. Never again.’ And we commit ourselves to preserving the memories of those who lived through the horrors of the Shoah, so that their experiences are not forgotten by our generation or by our children or grandchildren.
We also honor those who survived the Holocaust, many of them spared from death because of the righteous individuals who risked their lives to save Jews and other victims from Nazi persecution. The stories of these survivors and their protectors remind us to confront persecution wherever it arises, and that silence can be an accomplice to evil. They remind us of our duty to counter the rising tide of anti-Semitism, bigotry and hatred that threaten the values we hold dear—pluralism, diversity, and the freedoms of religion and expression,” Obama said.
Obama also expressed solidarity with modern-day Jews “leaving the European cities where they have lived for generations because they no longer feel safe, with the members of institutions that have been attacked because of their Jewish affiliations, and with the college students forced to confront swastikas appearing on their campuses. And we call upon all people of good will to be vigilant and vocal against every form of bigotry.”
Kerry added that “many in our country lost loved ones in the Holocaust. As I have learned in the past decade, some of my own relatives were among those who perished in Auschwitz, Terezin, Sobibor, and Dachau. But the lessons of the Holocaust, and the need for remembrance, are universal, and as relevant to everyone today as they were seven decades ago.”
“All of us must stand firmly and resolutely against resurgent anti-Semitism, sectarian hatred, and bigotry in our time. All of us must act to confront discrimination on the basis of race or religion, insist on the rule of law in relations between nations and peoples, and do all we can to uphold the fundamental dignity of every human being. In the words of Elie Wiesel, ‘One person of integrity can make a difference.’ In that spirit, it is our responsibility – individually, collectively, globally – to denounce injustice and prevent genocide. It is our duty to combat intolerance and prejudice in any form,” he said.