Rivlin welcomes Austrian president, thanks him for fighting antisemitism

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen told President Reuven Rivlin, "there must be zero tolerance for antisemitism. We want Jews to feel safe and we want them to live in peace.

February 4, 2019 13:01
1 minute read.
President Reuven Rivlin (R) shakes hands with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen (L)

President Reuven Rivlin (R) shakes hands with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen (L), February 4th, 2019. (photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)

“Austria bears shared responsibility for the Holocaust,” said President Alexander Van der Bellen of Austria on Monday.

Speaking during a visit with President Reuven Rivlin at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, der Bellen noted that many Austrian citizens took part in the tragic events of World War II.

“We bow our heads in memory of the victims in humility and respect,” he said. “We admitted our shared responsibility too late and that caused problems in our relations at the beginning.”

In their statements to the press both presidents discussed the threat of growing antisemitism and committed to working together to conquer it.

“Unfortunately, antisemitism is not disappearing,” said Rivlin. “It is raising its head across the world, and even more so in the last year. In your own country, there were some 50 antisemitic incidents last year, some of which are being investigated by the police.

“On the other hand, Austria led European support for the EU’s statement against antisemitism,” he continued. “This statement stresses the importance of education for Holocaust memory, and calls on governments to take steps to ensure the safety of their Jewish communities, organizations and citizens. It would be a tragedy if Jews were afraid to express their beliefs in Europe.”

Rivlin said the way to stamp out antisemitism is by taking responsibility for the past and by fighting against any hint or act of antisemitism or xenophobia.

“The campaign against antisemitism is not a Jewish issue,” Rivlin noted. “This is a battle that all humanity must fight, together.”

Der Bellen expressed similar sentiments and said his country’s aim is to ensure that Jews everywhere feel safe.

“It is our responsibility as Austrians to the victims of the Holocaust to ensure that we live in peace and agreement with Israel,” der Bellen said.

Earlier in the day, Rivlin and his wife, Nechama, hosted the Austrian president at their home.

Maayan Hoffman contributed to this article.

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