Holocaust Forum organizers insist Polish president offered chance to speak

The fifth annual World Holocaust Forum begins today at 1:30 p.m.

Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress  and the World Holocaust Forum Foundatio (photo credit: REUTERS)
Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress and the World Holocaust Forum Foundatio
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Yad Vashem director Avner Shalev andWorld Holocaust Forum Foundation Dr. Moshe Kantor both insisted that Polish President Andrzej Duda had been offered several opportunities to speak at the World Holocaust Forum and defended the decision not to allow him to speak at the central ceremony.
Speaking at a press conference opening the event, Shalev said that the decision to allow only the leaders of the allied countries in Second World War, to speak was taken long ago, and that Duda had received an “incorrect interpretation” of the event.
“I am really sorry President Duda decided not to come,” said Shalev. “He was invited to speak at the presidential dinner and Poland has every right to stand with the other nations here.”
Shalev added that “ There are disputes and misunderstandings, like between Russia and Poland regarding their own history and its interpretation. We believe that the business of wars over history should be handled by historians and researchers who know how to make research and how to publish it. This is what Yad Vashem does.”
Kantor said “President Duda, with all our respect and desire, was proposed to be the first speaker to open all these ceremonies yesterday, but his position was taken by the King of Spain instead.”
Both Shalev and Kantor also spoke about the purpose of the Fifth World Holocaust Event itself.
“I have never been so concerned with rise of antisemitism that I see all around us,” said Kantor.
“Just 75 years since Holocaust, Jewish life in Europe is under threat. Jews are afraid to walk the streets of Europe wearing Jewish symbols. Jewish schools and synagogues being targeted, and antisemitic attacks are becoming more violent.
“I offer you a sad picture of Jewish communities hiding behind high fences and thick security doors.”
Shalev said the fact that 50 world leaders had gathered at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem for the event was an important statement.
“We have made a united front of leaders who came to express one statement and mission: to combat antisemitism, understand the growing dangers of antisemitism, xenophobia, and hate speech all over the world, and reconnect their nations to human rights and human dignity all over the world.”