Obama: Israel prevents another Holocaust

JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel does not owe its existence to the Holocaust but its existence prevents another one from happening, U.S. President Obama said on the third and final day of his first presidential visit to Israel.

JSU Gala Advertisement

“Here we hope,” Obama said on Friday at Yad Vashem’s Hall of the Children after touring the Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem.  

“Because after you walk through these halls, after you pass through the darkness, there is light — a glorious view of the Jerusalem Forest, with the sun shining over the historic homeland of the Jewish people; a fulfillment of the prophecy: ‘you shall live again…upon your own soil’,” he said. “Here, on your ancient land, let it be said for all the world to hear:  The State of Israel does not exist because of the Holocaust.  But with the survival of a strong Jewish State of Israel, such a Holocaust will never happen again.”

Obama, in a 2009 Cairo speech to the Muslim world, decried the proliferation of Holocaust denial in some Muslim sectors. His phrasing in that speech suggested to some Jewish and Israeli leaders that he was predicating Israel’s existence on the Holocaust, although Obama’s audes denied that was his intention. One of the aims of this trip has been to roll back that impression.

Before visiting the museum, Obama laid wreaths on the graves of the founder of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, and that of the late Israeli premier Yitzchak Rabin who was assassinated in 1995 by a Jewish extremist.

At the grave, Obama met Rabin’s daughter, Dalia Rabin-Pelossof, and two grandchildren of the late Israel leader, whom Obama called “a remarkable man.”  In keeping with Jewish tradition, Obama also placed on the grave a pebble, which Obama brought from the foot of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Obama  is scheduled to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu one more time before visiting Bethlehem and the Church of Nativity. From there, he will fly to Jordan for a meeting with the country’s king, Abdullah II. 

ADVERTISEMENT: Visit OneHappyCamper.org to find a Jewish camp and see if your child qualifies for a $1,000 grant.

Click to write a letter to the editor.