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Herzog to address European Parliament in Brussels on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

President Isaac Herzog will depart tomorrow for Belgium, where he will deliver a keynote address to the European Parliament to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, his office announces.

Herzog is set to meet hold a number of high-level meetings during the short trip, including with Belgian King Philippe, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

In a statement, the president says his planned address to Holocaust survivors and lawmakers at a special session of the European Parliament on Thursday “fills me with a sense of sacred trepidation.”

“We must never forget that the Holocaust, the darkest abyss in human history, grew out of the fertile soil of the antisemitism that had spread through Europe for generations and tragically is rearing its head in many forms in the present day,” he says.

During the commemoration, Herzog and European Parliament President Roberta Metsola will unveil the 1939 painting “The Refugee” by German artist Felix Nussbaum, which will be displayed in the plenary, the EU says.

Painted on the eve of World War II, the work “is a reflection of Nussbaum’s fear and desperation on the eve of the Second World War. As Germany’s threatening shadow sweeps across Europe, the artist is left with no escape route,” according to Yad Vashem. Nussbaum died at Auschwitz in 1944.

Following the event, Herzog is slated to brief Stoltenberg and representatives of NATO member-states on Israel’s strategic situation.

“Israel’s relationship with the nations of Europe and the institutions of the European Union have an impact on almost every area of our lives as a people and as a state — from the economy to security, academia, science, culture, and so much more,” says Herzog. “My visit and meetings bring together the lessons of the past and a vision of a promising future of partnership between Israel and the nations of Europe.”

He will also visit the Athénée Ganenou Jewish school and Brussel’s Great Synagogue of Europe to meet members of the Brussels and Antwerp Jewish communities during the two-day trip.

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