update deskIsrael at War

Netanyahu to Holocaust survivors: If need be, Israel will stand alone

"If we do not defend ourselves, nobody will defend us," said the premier.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a ceremony held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the country's annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 17, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a ceremony held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, as Israel marks the country's annual Holocaust Remembrance Day on April 17, 2023. Photo by Erik Marmor/Flash90.

In a meeting ahead of Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told survivors of the Shoah that the Jewish state would stand alone if necessary to defend its very existence.

“If we need to stand alone, we will stand alone,” Netanyahu told the Holocaust survivors gathered at his office in Jerusalem on Thursday. “If it is possible to recruit the nations of the world, how much the better. But if we do not defend ourselves, nobody will defend us,” he added.

The premier’s remarks came during an annual event where Israel’s government leaders meet with the Shoah survivors selected to light torches at the official state ceremony on May 5 marking Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

This year’s torch lighters include Itzhak Kabilio and Michael Bar-On. Netanyahu referenced comments from the survivors highlighting the reality that Israel is the sole guarantor of the Jewish people’s safety.

“Izi [Itzhak Kabilio] said here: ‘The State of Israel is the one and only sanctuary of the Jewish people.’ This is so correct,” he stated. “And Michael said: ‘We cannot rely on the nations of the world who make promises.’”

The Israeli leader then cited the examples of former U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill during World War II, arguing that even those powerful figures failed to take critical action to try to save Jewish lives during the Holocaust.

“Great leaders like Roosevelt, who was told what was happening at Auschwitz and Birkenau and in the [other] death camps. They told him and he knew. His answer was that he would be not prepared to lose a single pilot and he also refused to accept the Jews,” Netanyahu said. “Churchill, who I greatly admire, tried to involve his army, but his army rebelled against him.”

At an Israel Defense Forces memorial ceremony held earlier on Thursday, Netanyahu told attendees that the military would “do what is necessary to win and overcome our enemies, including in Rafah.” 

Netanyahu previously told U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that while Jerusalem would appreciate Washington’s support for the military action against Hamas in Rafah, Israel would go it alone if it needed to.

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