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Obama: The Holocaust will never happen again

JERUSALEM (AP) — Wrapping up a three day visit to Israel, President Barack Obama paid respects to its heroes and to victims of the Holocaust, solemnly reaffirming the Jewish state's right to exist.

Accompanied by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, Obama laid wreaths at the graves of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism who died in 1904 before realizing his dream of a Jewish homeland, and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995.

He also toured the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, declaring after that the memorial illustrates the depravity to which man can sink but also serves as a reminder of the "righteous among nations who refused to be bystanders."

Friday's stop at Herzl's grave, together with Thursday's visit to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, the ancient Hebrew texts, were symbolic stops for Obama that acknowledged that the rationale for Israel's existence rests with its historical ties to the region and with a vision that predated the Holocaust. Obama was criticized in Israel for his 2009 Cairo speech in which he gave only the example of the Holocaust as reason for justifying Israel's existence.

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