Allow me first to recognize and honor Ambassador Raymond Wolfe, the Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations. We deeply appreciate Ambassador Wolfe's immense contribution and dedication as the chair of the Permanent Memorial Committee on Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel once wrote: “If anything can, it is memory that will save humanity… hope without memory is like memory without hope”. Today we recommit ourselves to memory to ensure that the tragedies of the past serve as clear lessons for the future.
The transatlantic slave-trade casts a dark shadow over history. 30 million people were forced from their homes, uprooted from their villages, and forced into lives of bondage. Too many stories of unspeakable injustice, pain and slavery will remain forever untold. And yet, among the stories that have been told, among the stories of unimaginable suffering – there are stories of hope. There are stories of survival – stories of people who found unimaginable strength even in the darkest of times and the darkest of places.
The Jewish people know too well the evils of oppression, persecution and slavery. We also know the joy of freedom. We understand what it means to realize aspirations and fulfill dreams. We have built and re-built our national homeland in Israel as a free people. Driven by our own experience, the Jewish people and the Jewish state continue to lead global efforts to advance the values of tolerance, freedom and understanding.
As we have done every year, Israel proudly co-sponsors today's resolution. We are proud of our financial contribution to the Permanent Memorial in Honor of Victims of Slavery and the International Slave Trade.
The Permanent Memorial will be seen by world leaders and citizens alike. The memorial will provide a permanent reminder about the abhorrence of slavery here at the United Nations. It will remind us of the words, ideas and deeds that led to millions being enslaved. It will remind us that everyone is born free, born equal, and born with the right to decide their own destiny.
The memorial must also serve as a call to action, a call to every nation, to every leader to every citizen, to do everything that they can to ensure that no human being is ever enslaved.
And yet Mr. President,
As we sit in this hall, millions of people in the world are not free. Women are abused as sex slaves and children are being traded as property. Millions are suffering. Too many children around the globe are being taught to hate. Racism and prejudice are all too prevalent in our world. This evil is the spark for persecution, violence and war.
We must remember, we must memorialize, and, most crucially, we must educate. Education is the only way to prevent such crimes. It is the only way to ensure that our children and our societies understand their obligation to prevent such a tragedy from ever occurring again. It is the duty of the United Nations to take up this challenge.
Israel today stands with the international community to make a solemn promise. Together we say: freedom is universal. We promise to our children that we will never stand idle when we see others being enslaved.
Thank you, Mr. President.