Address by the President of Israel at a Meeting with the World Jewish Restitution Organization
It is an honor to be joined here by Holocaust survivors, as well as representatives of countries around the world who are working together for this important cause – “Justice for Holocaust Survivors”. Friends, let’s be honest. There can be no true justice, in the face of such terrible evil, such inhuman acts. What justice can we bring to the children, left in the snow, their whole families murdered in front of their eyes? What justice can we bring after the murder of six million people? We cannot bring them back. And even now, 70 years on, the Jewish population has yet to recover. Yes, we have risen from the ashes. The Jewish people has a home, and an army to protect them.
We have a strong economy and Jewish culture flourishes. But no, the scars of the Holocaust, of the Shoah, can never be totally healed. “צֵדֶק צֵדֶק תִרְדוֹף”, “Justice justice, you shall seek”, but I am sad to say, we will never get. We always say, “crime doesn’t pay”. But for many people the crimes of the Holocaust did pay. We cannot allow this. The property must be returned. In addition, time is running out. Less than four hundred thousand survivors are alive today. About half are here in Israel. The other half live around the world, many in the countries represented here.
We all have a duty to the survivors today, now, to ensure their well-being. The work of the World Jewish Restitution Organization is so important to help recover the assets, and the property of Jews, stolen by the Nazis and their helpers. To return it to their rightful owners where possible and to use it for the benefit of survivors in need. This is a national mission, and I want to thank Minister Gila Gamliel, for her dedication to this mission. We have come a long way, both recognizing the rights of survivors, and in returning property. In 2009, 47 countries signed the Terezin Declaration.
We have made great progress in Serbia and Romania, whose Prime Minister I met this morning. But there is still much more to do. As President of Israel, the national home of the Jewish people, the victims of the Holocaust, I call on all leaders to act now. We have a window of opportunity to show the survivors of history’s darkest days, that the world has learned from the past. This is a moral duty.
Friends, thank you all for all you do – For your bravery, for your dedication, for justice.