President Isaac Herzog will pay a three-day state visit to Ukraine starting next Tuesday for the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the Babyn Yar massacre.
Herzog will be one of the speakers at the commemoration ceremony on October 6, which comes 30 years after the first such ceremony was permitted.
At that time a message was sent by Herzog’s father, president Chaim Herzog, who did not attend, and was read out by an Israeli diplomat. The Israeli delegation at that time was led by education minister Zevulun Hammer of the National Religious Party.
The memorial ceremony next week will take place at the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center in Kyiv, which is currently under construction, under the chairmanship of former Israel government minister and former chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, who was born in Ukraine. There are other Jewish monuments on the site.
Herzog’s delegation will include several members of Knesset, the most prominent of whom will be Minister for Jerusalem Affairs and Minister for Housing and Construction MK Ze’ev Elkin, who was also born in Ukraine and is currently the government liaison to Kyiv.
Also attending the Babi Yar commemoration ceremony will be Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and German President Frank Walter Steinmeier, who last year attended events in Israel, Poland, and Germany to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
In the course of his visit, Herzog will meet privately with Zelensky and with Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. He will also address the Ukrainian Parliament – the Verkhovna Rada – and meet with representatives of the Jewish community.
Herzog, whose father was an officer in the British Army and among the liberators of Bergen-Belsen, said in relation to his participation in the 80th-anniversary commemoration of Babyn Yar massacre, “It is imperative to keep on speaking about this horrific event and learn its lessons. The Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center is an important site for the commemoration of this painful memory and for the declaration that we must continue saying together: Never again. The only way to build a present and future in which atrocities and crimes against humanity can find no foothold is to study the past, including the Holocaust and persecution of the Jewish people in the spirit of the commandment ‘And you shall tell your son and daughter.’”
Herzog commended Zelensky for his commitment to fighting against antisemitism in his country and elsewhere.