JERUSALEM (AP) — The presidents of France and Germany warned of rising anti-Semitism. Israeli and American leaders lashed out at Iran. Russia’s president took a swipe at eastern European members of NATO.
The leaders who addressed the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem were united in condemning the murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II, and in vowing to learn from the past. But their diverging views of what that entails reveal a world at odds about the legacy of the genocide, 75 years after the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp.
Here are some of the key statements made at the forum, which was held at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem and attended by dozens of world leaders.
ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU
“Has the world learned the lessons of the Holocaust?… I am concerned that we have yet to see a unified and resolute stance against the most anti-Semitic regime on the planet – a regime that openly seeks to develop nuclear weapons and annihilate the one and only Jewish state. Israel salutes President (Donald) Trump and Vice President (Mike) Pence for confronting the tyrants of Tehran that subjugate their own people, and threaten the peace and security of the entire world… I call on all governments to join the vital effort of confronting Iran.”
U.S. VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE
“We must be prepared to confront and expose the vile tide of anti-Semitism that is fueling hate and violence all across the world. And we must stand together. In that same spirit, we must also stand strong against the leading state purveyor of anti-Semitism, against the one government in the world that denies the Holocaust as a matter of state policy and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. The world must stand strong against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN
“We must remember that there were collaborators for that terrible crime who often surpassed their masters in cruelty… On the occupied territories of the Soviet Union, where those bandits were active, the largest number of Jews were killed.” He said 1.4 million Jews were killed in Ukraine, and that the pre-war Jewish populations of Lithuania and Latvia were almost completely wiped out. All three are former Soviet republics that are now Western allies. “The memory of the Holocaust will serve as a lesson and a warning for the future only if it’s full, without exemptions and omissions… Regrettably, the memory of the war today often becomes the subject of current political interests.”
GERMAN PRESIDENT FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER
“The spirits of evil are emerging in a new guise, presenting their anti-Semitic, racist, authoritarian thinking as an answer for the future, a new solution to the problems of our age. And I wish I could say that we Germans have learnt from history once and for all. But I cannot say that when hatred is spreading. I cannot say that when Jewish children are spat on in the schoolyard, I cannot say that when crude anti-Semitism is cloaked in supposed criticism of Israeli policy. And I cannot say that when only a thick wooden door prevents a right wing terrorist from causing a massacre, a bloodbath in a synagogue in the city of Halle on Yom Kippur.”
FRENCH PRESIDENT EMMANUEL MACRON
“We need this unity, of Europe, of the international community, because today, in our democracy, anti-Semitism is resurging — violent, brutal, it is here. And with it, its parade of hate and intolerance. With it, racism. Anti-Semitism, I say it here clearly, is not only the problem of Jews. No. It is first and foremost the problem of others. Because each time in our history, anti-Semitism always preceded the weakening of democracy, it translated our inability to accept others. It is always the first form of rejection of the other. And when anti-Semitism appears, all racism spreads. All divisions propagate. Nobody comes out of this winning.”
BRITAIN’S PRINCE CHARLES
“The lessons of the Holocaust are searingly relevant to this day. Seventy-five years after the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, hatred and intolerance still lurk in the human heart, still tell new lies, adopt new disguises, and still seek new victims.”