Photo Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO
L-R: Yad Vashem Chairman Avner Shalev, Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz, President Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin and EJC and World Holocaust Forum Foundation president Dr. Moshe Kantor

Some 30 heads of state from around the world have confirmed they will attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, taking place on 23 January 2020, at Yad Vashem 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 (Ruvi) 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 antisemitism and Holocaust denial.

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The event, titled “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Antisemitism,” 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 antisemitism has no place in our global society.
The President of Russia H.E. Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of France H.E. Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of Germany H.E. Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of Italy H.E. Mr. Sergio Mattarella and President of Austria H.E. Mr. 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 antisemitism, especially in Europe. Given this alarming situation, efforts to educate about the dangers of antisemitism, racism and xenophobia and foster Holocaust commemoration and research have made this event more crucial and relevant than ever.

“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 steps we must take to ensure the safety and security of Jews- all around the world,” said President Reuven Rivlin.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz, a son of Holocaust survivors, noted the event’s great “historical and personal significance,” pointing out that since those dark days, “we have defended, and developed our homeland. Today, the State of Israel is strong and advanced. The IDF ensures that the Jewish People will never again stand defenseless against its 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.”

World Holocaust Forum Foundation founder and president Dr. Moshe Kantor said, “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,” he noted. “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.”

Yad Vashem chairperson Avner Shalev commented that 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, Shalev added.

“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 WWII, but also as a tool to fight anti-Semitism, racism and xenophobia, alarming phenomena that are on the rise around the world today.”

Founded in 2005 by Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, the World Holocaust Forum Foundation is an international organization dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and its important lessons for all of humanity, including fighting rising antisemitism. Past World Holocaust Forum events have taken place at Auschwitz, Babi Yar and Terezin, in cooperation with Yad Vashem, with the highest-level political and diplomatic representation.

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