Speech by Stephen Herbits

Thank you. Shanah Tovah.

I speak today as Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress, representing Jewish communities in over 80 countries on six continents — and I extend warm wishes on behalf of Edgar M. Bronfman and Israel Singer — two men who have struggled to free the Jews of this country and work to protect the memory of the Shoah.

We have stood today on holy ground consecrated in the blood of thousands of martyrs.

These martyrs are not like those heralded by some so-called religious leaders of today – who celebrate death and wish to deliver it to others. No, the martyrs that rest here cherished life. They did not chase death; they ran from it. And we do not celebrate their victim hood.

We mourn. As we read on the second day of Rosh Hashana, a voice is heard on high, “Rachel cries for her children, she refuses to be consoled for her children, for they are gone.”

Yet, for more than half a century, we were silenced. Rachel’s children were erased from facts by demagogues and despots who sought to shield their own crimes from the judges of history.

Today, we once again face individuals who stand before the entire world and deny what took place on the grounds of Babi Yar, calling it a myth.

And today, as it was then, the world remains mostly silent. Some are afraid, others are indifferent. Many, for cynical considerations stand idly by as today’s –“would-be Hitler” denies the crimes of his predecessor, while constructing the capacity to complete his mission.

If the victims of this terrible massacre are to have any rest then we must ensure that Rachel’s cries are heard throughout the world and that “never again” is not just a slogan, but a call to action.

Those who were silent then were complicit in genocide. Those silent today, who stall negotiations and prevent serious consequences from being delivered to those who would destroy Israel, who would deny the Holocaust, who support terrorism and threaten nuclear destruction – they bear grave responsibility. For by not standing up to the threat, they deny the lessons of Babi Yar.

The blood of your brothers cries out from the ground. When will we listen?

Let us resolve that we shall not let this year pass without rallying the citizens of the world to confront this evil and recognize that what happened here may never be repeated.

Thank you.