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Homepage  Briefing Room  PM Speeches  PM Netanyahu’s Speech at Plenary Meeting Marking 50 Years Since the Eichmann Trial
PM Netanyahu’s Speech at Plenary Meeting Marking 50 Years Since the Eichmann Trial

Mr. Speaker, I commend you for the important work you do to commemorate the Holocaust victims and the lessons of the Holocaust.  Marking 50 years since the Eichmann trial is significant to the memory of the Holocaust and its lessons.

My friend, Minister Yossi Peled, a Holocaust survivor who later became the Head of the Northern Command, you are also worthy of much praise for all your work commemorating the Holocaust, implementing the lessons learned from it and for the security of Israel, which all go hand in hand.

I would like to call attention to Justice Gabriel Bach, who is here.  He was on Eichmann’s investigation team; Rafi Eitan, who was one of Eichmann’s captors; and Tami Raveh, daughter of the lawyer who represented six million Jews in his hair-raising statement at the Eichmann trial, Gideon Hausner.  I also wish to mention Miki Goldman, the child victim who became one of Eichmann’s investigators, the Mossad and Shin Bet people who worked together on this important mission ordered by the late Prime Minister David Ben Gurion and run by the late Isser Harel.

We came to this meeting directly from another moving event which is connected to it – the memorial service for the late Speaker of the Knesset Dov Shilansky.  If I didn’t mention him, former Speaker of the Knesset Shevach Weiss is also here.  Dan Tichon is here too, and he was also at the moving ceremony for Dov Shilansky.

Dov Shilansky was one of Eichmann’s victims and he miraculously escaped the deadly tentacles of the Nazi beast, he and his family, or at least some of it.  Shilansky came here to take part in building the country and defending it, and years later he became the leader of the parliament.  Shilansky never forgot what he had endured and the responsibility that ensued.  He was a true loyalist to Israel.  No one was more devoted to Eretz Israel than he was, and no one more loyal to the State of Israel than he was. He raised the banner of statehood.

I say this because today, there is a small group of the many Eretz Israel loyalists in Judea and Samaria and all over Israel, who think that statehood can be dismissed, and that law can be dismissed, and that you can plunder and hit. This is a danger to our democracy, and puts our country at risk. No one raises a hand against IDF soldiers, no one strikes officers of the Israel Police and no one infiltrates IDF bases.  We will fight these occurrences and we will defeat them, because there is no such thing as ideological crime, there is only crime.  And such crime will be punished by law.

I had a meeting today with the Minister of Justice, Minister of Defense, The Chief of Staff, Minister of Public Security, the head of the Shin Bet and the Attorney General, to take the harshest steps possible against these lawbreakers. Our country is based on law, on enforcement, and we will not allow IDF soldiers or Israel Police officers or any other factor of Israel’s sovereignty to be harmed. We demand that the law be enforced and abided by meticulously by everyone. There are no excuses, there is no justification, for breaking the law.

This law that exists inside us should ostensibly also exist on the international front. I say ostensibly, not because there are no international standards and international laws. There are. And they were realized at the Nuremberg Trials. But in fact, we cannot always trust them, because the international community does not respond on time, if at all, and in the case of the Jewish people, from our experience, it definitely did not respond on time. We were defenseless, helpless, and they slaughtered us.

The capture of Eichmann 50 years ago, during the joint mission of the Mossad and the Shin Bet, proved that there is accountability and justice, even if it comes late and if it is only partial. That was its primary significance. But it had a secondary significance, and that was an internal change in the attitude of Israelis to the Holocaust. I remember myself as a young man, as a boy in fact, in school.  I remember that in the years before Eichmann was captured we would whisper among us, saying “that girl,” referring to a girl in our class who was the daughter of Holocaust survivors, and it was a dark secret. We never talked about it.  That thing, and especially for my cohorts, expressed the huge change that occurred when Adolph Eichmann was captured.  When he was brought to Jerusalem and the trial began, we heard the testimonies and the prosecution statements, it caused a huge change in the way we regarded Holocaust survivors among us, in understanding the Holocaust, and I would go as far as saying that it made us proud of Israel for doing what had to be done to bring that hateful man to justice.

Eichmann claimed that he was only a small cog. But he was no small cog; he was a very large component.  Hitler, Himmler, Heydrich, Eichmann.  The Nazi machine was massive and this was its top.  But what we discovered, thanks to the very moving exhibition we saw yesterday, was that Eichmann came to Israel in the 1930s and reported to Berlin that he recommended doing everything to prevent the establishment of the Jewish state here, not to enable the Jews to have a place of refuge, shelter. This means that Eichmann’s role in the Final Solution was not only executioner, but he advocated the idea. We know this because like everyone all over the world, we have been exposed to the eradication documents at the Wannsee House.  I remember the emotional visit to the house. The mind that came up with the idea was also the executioner. True, he had partners, but he was very central, and these things were expressed, highly emotionally, at the Eichmann trial.  I remember Ka Tzetnik’s testimony. I remember how it moved me and my classmates. Our teacher said that the best punishment for Eichmann would be to take him on a guided tour of Israel so he would see everything the Jews had done here, in their own country. I thought that was a good idea, but not enough.

The important thing is not only the punishment, but what we learn from it. And the lesson is that Jews must be able to defend themselves, because if they cannot defend themselves, nobody else will defend them. We owe these and many other things that changed our country and our people, to the people who captured that man, brought him to Israel and prosecuted him, making us all understand that we have a special commitment to the existence, the continuation and the security of the people of Israel.

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