Delegations from 49 countries, including presidents, prime ministers, monarchs and key officials are attending Israel’s fifth World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem.
Originally planned to be a small event with 10-15 participating leaders, the commemoration has turned into the largest diplomatic event in the country’s history.
This year’s forum is commemorating the 75th liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp and is titled “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Antisemitism.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Britain’s Prince Charles, US Vice President Mike Pence and French President Emmanuel Macron are the highest-profile leaders in attendance, as well as kings and heads of countries such as Canada, Ukraine, Germany, Italy, and Argentina.
Throughout Wednesday, Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin met with many foreign dignitaries and hosted an official reception and dinner at the president’s residence.
“I hope and pray” Rivlin announced at the dinner, “that from this room, the message will go out to every country on earth, that the leaders of the world will stand united in the fight against racism, antisemitism and extremism.”
King of Spain Felipe VI, also addressed the crowd, quoting words from the Rambam, who was born in Cordoba.
On Thursday, at Jerusalem’s Sacher Park, a monument will be dedicated in memory of the heroism and those who were killed during the Siege of Leningrad in the Second World War.
The main memorial ceremony of the Holocaust Forum will be held at Yad Vashem Warsaw Ghetto Square Thursday afternoon.
After the event, Rivlin and Netanyahu will continue to meet with world leaders. The US Embassy in Jerusalem will host a meeting between the Prime Minister, US Ambassador David Friedman and Vice President Pence, who is also expected to visit the Kosel before returning to the US. Netanyahu and Rivlin’s meetings with foreign leaders will continue until about an hour before Shabbos, as the summit draws to a close.