World given unique opportunity to condemn anti-Semitism: 40 leaders expected at Yad Vashem event

“The biggest political event ever in the history of the state,” says the Foreign Ministry.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Close to 40 world leaders have confirmed that they will be coming to Israel to attend the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp that marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The presidents of Russia, Germany, France, Italy, and Austria are among the guests, along with three monarchs of Spain, Holland and Iceland, and many other heads of state. The American delegation will seemingly be headed by Vice President Mike Pence, although this has yet to be confirmed.

The January 22-23, 2020 commemoration will be “the biggest political event ever in the history of the state,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Chait.

It will dwarf the funerals of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, two other events which saw dozens of world leaders stream to Israel. At those events, world leaders left the same day.

This time, the official events are spread over two days, and enough suites had to be found in hotels throughout the capital for all the entourages, some 600 people in all.

Israeli diplomats and ministry staffers will accompany each delegation during the individualized itineraries that have been planned for them in accordance with their requests and needs.

The leaders will be hosted formally by President Reuven Rivlin at a state dinner the first evening, and Rivlin will also confer with each leader separately in a marathon of meetings.

The main event will be held the next day at Yad Vashem, when many of the guests will speak and all will lay memorial wreaths.

The event, titled “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Antisemitism,” is being organized by the World Holocaust Forum (WHF) Foundation, in cooperation with Yad Vashem and the State of Israel. The title encapsulates the goal of European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor when he established the foundation in 2005.

“’Never Again’ is an action plan, one that we must reclaim as a call to protect the future while remembering the past,” Kantor said in an August statement about the solemn occasion. It will give world leaders a “unique opportunity” to say “’Enough’ to antisemitism, intolerance and racism – and stop the hate.”

Foreign Minister Director-General Yuval Rotem told Israel Hayom on Tuesday that the senior level of the attending dignitaries “is another aspect of raising the bar in everything connected to international attention to the problem of anti-Semitism.

“It is impossible to ignore its rise in so many places in the world, in the far Right, the far Left and extremist Islam. More and more countries understand that they must do what they can to prevent its outburst.”