Dozens of world leaders, including the heads of state of the United States, Germany, Russia and France, declare their commitment to battle anti-Semitism in a book and film set to be released Wednesday at a gathering of leaders at the residence of Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin.
Leaders and senior dignitaries from over 40 nations are expected in Israel this week to attend the fifth annual World Holocaust Forum at Yad Vashem, which this year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.
As part of the event, Yad Vashem produced a book titled, “Remembering the Holocaust, Fighting Antisemitism,” which features written statements from fifty world leaders “stating their fervent and profound pledge to remember the Holocaust and to take measures to combat rising antisemitism,” Yad Vashem said in a statement Tuesday.
Many of the leaders’ statements were then incorporated into a film produced by Rivlin’s office that will be shown at a dinner for the leaders hosted by the president on Wednesday evening.
The book and film both include messages from Polish President Andrzej Duda and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, both of whom canceled their appearances at the event.
Duda earlier this month canceled his participation at the forum amid a row about the history of World War II between the governments of Poland and Russia.
He announced he was boycotting the event after his request to deliver a speech at the gathering was denied by Yad Vashem, while Russia’s President Putin is scheduled to deliver one of the keynote addresses.
He told Israeli TV in an interview that aired Tuesday that the Jerusalem event was a sideshow to the main commemoration at the site of the former death camp on Monday.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda also announced he would not attend over the spat. Protesters had planned to speak out against claims of official Lithuanian revisionism during Nauseda’s visit.
The book includes messages from a number of other leaders who will not attend but are sending dignitaries in their place.
US President Donald Trump, represented at the forum by Vice President Mike Pence, wrote, “to those who seek the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people, I say: never again.”
Calling the Holocaust “a self-inflicted wound that has never entirely healed,” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it was “not only a part of German history, but also an awareness that guides us in the present day.”
France’s President Emmanuel Macron noted the relevance of history to the current wave of anti-Semitism sweeping over Europe: “Holocaust survivors, citizens of France and of other states are being persecuted only because they are Jews” in today’s Europe, Macron wrote. A survey released by the American Jewish Committee Tuesday found that most people in France believe anti-Semitism is a major problem Macron’s government is not equipped to handle.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin called on world leaders “to unite their efforts in confronting these threats.”
Putin is expected to use his speech to again level accusations that Poland had colluded with German dictator Adolf Hitler and contributed to the outbreak of World War II. Putin and other senior Russian officials have recently said that Poland was partly responsible for the war’s outbreak, a claim rejected by Warsaw and its Western allies as false revisionism.
“The memory of the Holocaust and World War II must be a warning for us and our descendants,” Duda wrote in his letter to the forum. “It is our duty to do everything within our power to ensure that such a nightmare should never happen again.”
Spain’s King Felipe VI wrote: “We know well that words are not enough and that continuous action, heartfelt remembrance and vast education are needed. My country, mindful of the complexities involved in addressing it, has put in place a holistic, multidisciplinary approach that includes criminal, educational, public diplomacy and nationality measures” for battling anti-Semitism.
Pope Francis called to “remain firm in our efforts to advance dialog, mutual understanding and human fellowship as a basis for peace,” and expressed “my fervent hope that by continued vigilance and positive education, the iniquities perpetrated during one of the darkest periods in our history will be eliminated from the face of the earth.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and UN Secretary General António Guterres also wrote missives included in the book, along with the leaders of Austria, Greece, Canada, Italy, Cyprus, Norway and other nations.