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Some 30 heads of state from around the world invited by the president will attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, taking place on 23 January 2020, at Yad Vashem [Israel’s Holocaust museum] in Jerusalem.

The lead-up to this historic event was officially launched this morning at a press conference, held at the president’s residence in Jerusalem, where President Reuven Rivlin, Foreign Minister Israel Katz, Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev and World Holocaust Forum Foundation President Dr. Moshe Kantor spoke about the importance of the event and the urgent need to fight against anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

The event, titled “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Anti-Semitism,” is being organized by the World Holocaust Forum Foundation, in cooperation with Yad Vashem, under the auspices of the president of the State of Israel.

As the world prepares to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the message will be clear that anti-Semitism has no place in our global society.

[Russian President] Vladimir Putin, [French President] Emmanuel Macron, [German President] Frank-Walter Steinmeier, [Italian President] Sergio Mattarella and [Austrian President] Alexander Van der Bellen are among the leaders who have so far confirmed their attendance of this historic event.

The event takes place against the background of the rise in hateful and violent expressions of anti-Semitism, especially in Europe. Given this alarming situation, efforts to educate about the dangers of anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia and foster Holocaust commemoration and research have made this event more crucial and relevant than ever.

President of the State of Israel Reuven Rivlin: “In a few weeks I will be joined by heads of states and world leaders, who were invited by the European–Jewish Congress and Yad Vashem to be with me in Jerusalem, to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The presidents of Russia, Germany, France, Italy and Austria together with a representative of the United Kingdom and many other leaders, will come to Jerusalem to discuss how we can fight anti-Semitism. We will come together to think about how to pass on Holocaust remembrance to generations who will live in a world without survivors, and what urgent steps we must take to ensure the safety and security of Jews—all around the world.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Israel Katz: “Holding this high-level event in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, as we mark seventy-five years since the liberation of Auschwitz, has great historical and personal significance. I am the son of Holocaust survivors Meir and Malka Katz, may they rest in peace. My mother Malka Katz was in Auschwitz and was sent on the ‘Death March.’  Since those dark days, we have defended and developed our homeland. Today, the State of Israel is strong and advanced. The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] ensures that the Jewish people will never again stand defenseless against [their] enemies. Even so, anti-Semitism is rising around the world. We see it in violent attacks against Jews, vandalized cemeteries, incitement and the murder of Jews. The international community must unite against the rise of anti-Semitism.”

Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev: “The Holocaust has become a paradigm to measure the human capacity to engage in radical, cruel and systematic evil, not only because of its unprecedented scope—the murder of six million Jewish men, women and children—but also because of the ‘rationale’ behind Nazi ideology—the extermination of the Jewish people as a way to protect their own national interests and that of the “pure German race.” The ability of an advanced society to justify the eradication of an entire people and culture was supported and even encouraged by age-old anti-Semitic tropes, some of which are present in our post-Holocaust global society.”

“Yad Vashem works tirelessly to increase the knowledge and awareness of the history of the Holocaust, not only to ensure that its memory continues to be relevant 75 years after the end of World War II, but also as a tool to fight anti-semitism, racism and xenophobia, alarming phenomena that are on the rise around the world today.”

World Holocaust Forum Foundation Founder and President Dr. Moshe Kantor: “The pledge ‘to remember and never forget’ should be a pledge for all of humanity, and not just for the Jewish people. Jewish life is once again under threat in Europe. It is under threat from the day-to-day harassment and attacks, on the streets, in schools, at universities, online and even in their own homes. It has become so bad that the overwhelming majority of Jews in Europe no longer feel safe.”

“Anti-Semitism is a hatred that knows no boundaries and has been adopted by multiple ideologies. Jews are relentlessly attacked by the Left, the Right and the mainstream. This is another pivotal point in history where the leaders of the world have to stand up and act. Words are not enough, and I conceived of the World Holocaust Forum to be a place where we can create an action plan to aggressively fight back against anti-Semitism.”

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Date published: 24/11/2019
Feature image: View of the Hall of Names, Holocaust Museum. Photo: EFE / Yossi-Ben-David.

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