EXCLUSIVITY: Speech by the King of Spain during the dinner of the 5th World Holocaust Forum
January 22nd 2020
It is a great honor to speak this afternoon when we meet for the 5th World Holocaust Forum that begins tomorrow; A remarkable assembly of world leaders committed to memory, with a just cause and a moral obligation. Thank you, President Rivlin; Thank you for your wise words, you have always been a source of inspiration. I am sure that each of us here would have much to express in this historical event; I will only modestly try to condense some of them.
75 years later, the world does not forget, the world still remembers and promises to be alert. This is what this meeting here, today, has decided to state firmly and clearly.
Our great Jewish thinker Moisés Maimónides, born in Sefarad, in the city of Córdoba, wrote in the Middle Ages, following in the footsteps of other prominent thinkers: “All the great evils that men cause originate in ignorance.” In fact, humanity has suffered its darkest hours when millions of innocent lives in many areas of life and countless communities have abruptly disappeared due to blind, perverse and ignorant hatred.
Because there is no greater evil than that derived from ignoring that all women and men are equal, and that every human being is endowed with the greatest dignity. People cannot show greater imprudence than when they think they are above others, when they feel they have the right to discriminate, tolerate intolerance or promote resentment against others for political gain, religious extremism or racial hatred.
We can find the remedy for such malicious and immoral contempt of the dignity of the “other”, first, in the example of those who have suffered their murderous enmity. I am sure that Prof. Bauer and Dr. Kantor will talk to us about this matter a million times better than me; and tomorrow at Yad Vashem we will have the honor of meeting some of the survivors of the death camps.
For decades, these men and women have enlightened us about the importance of keeping alive the memory of their terrible experience. Forgetting the Shoah would not only dishonor the memory of millions of victims, but it would also be extremely dangerous.
However, we know well that, despite all the meticulous effort of those who gave us, and still do today, their personal testimony (or their relatives), of all the powerful inspiration that this gives us, unfortunately only the memory is not sufficient. We also know that barbarism can grow when one least expects it, even in the midst of so much technology and advanced culture. We are never completely safe from this, and to varying degrees, we still see it hitting hard today in different parts of our world. We simply cannot look the other way; We must persevere in the implementation, teaching and coexistence of the principles and values of the International Charter of Human Rights. We have come today, Mr. President, not only to show our respect for the survivors and our disgust for what happened, not so long ago, in Auschwitz-Birkenau and in many other places.
We are also here, perhaps primarily, to show our unwavering commitment to carry out all the necessary efforts of our respective countries to combat ignorant intolerance, hatred and the total lack of human empathy that allowed and gave rise to the Holocaust. Because preventing such civilization diseases is a collective but also individual responsibility. There is no place for indifference in the presence of racism, xenophobia, hate speech and anti-Semitism.
Disturbingly, we are currently witnessing a wave of horrible attacks against Jews in various parts of the world. Many times in history, animosity against Jews has shamefully proved to be a symptom and a crude example of intolerance and dislike of others.
With a precious, rich and complex Jewish past and a vibrant Jewish community, Spain decided to create a solid framework of rules and initiatives to relentlessly fight against anti-Semitism and all forms of xenophobia and racism. Of course, there are many more nations, both here and others, that are making similar efforts and progress; but, although I am still optimistic, we all know that we will always have to persevere together so that those words that we have repeated so many times, “never again”, remain our guiding and unwavering principle. NEVER AGAIN, LEOLÁM LO OD.