Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the state memorial ceremony for victims of terror, which was held today (Wednesday, 11 May 2016) at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem:
“Yesterday, a very moving ceremony took place at the Knesset, during which they sang Chaim Nahman Bialik’s wonderful song Take Me Under Your Wing. In this song, he says: ‘People say there is love in the world. What is love?’ And then onto the stage comes, Ahava [love], the young daughter of Dafna Meir, who was murdered by a miscreant in front of her children as she protected them. And little Ahava provided a response, no less wonderful, to what great love is – a mother’s love which Dafna showered upon her, and saturated her in throughout the few years they spent together. This love will help Ahava throughout her life, and will be missed at the significant moments of her life. The pain is immense.
As a son of a bereaved family, I feel your anguish with every fiber of my body. As a citizen of Israel, I share your grief, and as Prime Minister, I stand by you and commend you for your endurance.
We are fighting a national battle. It has been raging for over 100 years. Throughout our history, each generation has suffered under the hands of murderers, and sadly, each generation knew bereavement and orphanhood, despair and grief. Each generation was charged with withstand the test, and all generations survived.
I have been pondering the word hatred. It is not part of our people’s tradition; it is not one of our characteristics. In the history of Israel, the word has been used to describe hatred toward us for religious, social, economic and national reasons. We do not wave the flag of hatred. We raise the banner of brotherhood and extend our hand in peace to the nations of the world and to our neighbors. ‘Nation shall not lift up sword against nation.’ Who wrote that? Who introduced this idea to humanity if not our prophets? And this ideal continues to guide our generation, but our enemies refuse to accept our presence here. They see each and every one of us, whether in uniform or not, Jews and non-Jews alike, as a target. They attack mothers with children, they attack children, adults, the elderly – like the attack that happened only yesterday. They are bloodthirsty as a result of blind hatred and uninhabited incitement.
The terms are different, but the motives are the same. In the past year we have been calling the attacks lone-wolf terrorism, which is a supposedly a new concept in Israel. But terrorist attacks occur and reoccur, they wash over us in waves, and over time they take on a new form. This year too, we lost beloved people, and each incident is a tragedy that breaks our heart. It breaks the hearts of the families first, but the heart of the nation too. A father and son on their way to the celebratory Shabbat before a wedding ambushed and murdered in a shooting attack; a young women shouting for help in an alley in Jerusalem as her husband tries to fight off the terrorist and is eventually murdered in front of her eyes; and a group of Israelis on a tour in Istanbul who also fell victims to fundamental Islamic terrorism, which has no borders.
But it is on this day that – from the abyss of endless sadness, from the depths of darkness – the powers of life within us are revealed. Our mutual accountability is exhibited at the scenes of the attacks, as people hurry to help those being threatened, often with nothing but their bare hands and at great personal risk.
We continue the mission of those murdered, we continue their legacy. We have discovered the exceptional personalities of each and every one of them: nobility, charity, kindness, spirit, wonderful qualities that influenced those around them. I visit the families, I try to visit them all, and hear about these people after their deaths, and I am always amazed by our people. And for that reason, terrorism will persist.
The prophet Micah said: ‘Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; though I am fallen, I shall arise.’ That is the message. I have fallen and I have arisen. We arise every time, after the Shiva, the week of mourning, and we stand with them. We are increasing our hold on our land; our determination to overcome those who wish to kill us and to get our own on them is undeniable.
My dear brothers and sisters, this is a difficult day. The wounds reopen. I believe, and the entire nation prays, that you will find the strength to heal the wounds and grow new tissue over them.
You are not alone. The love of the nation and its unity is with you. We find comfort in building of our country and in the glimmers of light left by our loved ones. I send heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery to all the wounded, and may you know no more sorrow.
May the memory of the victims of terror forever dwell in our hearts.”