President Reuven Rivlin on Monday held a working meeting in New York with United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, upon whose invitation Rivlin will address the UN special session for International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Rivlin thanked Ban for all he has done to promote Holocaust remembrance at the UN, saying, “I want to thank the Secretary-General for the invitation to be a part of this event, and for his unwavering commitment to the fight against anti-Semitism.”
The President urged Ban to act with a firm hand against anti-Semitism, and asked that the UN would continue to act to raise awareness of the issue, as was done with last week’s conference at the UN on the subject.
The President stressed the importance of Holocaust commemoration and said, “Understanding the lessons of the past, is so important for our ability to face the challenges of today, in the Middle East and across the world. Religious hatred is on the rise, the poison of fundamentalism and terrorism has left no corner of the globe immune, and the need to fight this threat is a primary international interest. I want to thank the Secretary General, for all he is doing to help combat extremism and terror, and for his efforts to help find a solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Ban Ki-moon thanked Rivlin for his warm response to the invitation, and for coming to speak at the special assembly on Holocaust commemoration. He explained to the President how he was deeply impacted by a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau which he made around a year ago.
“It terrified me to see the horror with my own eyes, and I have no doubt that the visit made me even more committed to the fight for human rights,” said the UN chief.
The President and the Secretary-General discussed the importance of the rehabilitation of Gaza, and the various investigations being held into events around Operation Protective Edge.
“The IDF is the most ethical army in the world,” the President told the Secretary-General. “Our soldiers are our children, and I have no doubt that we know how to investigate every event which took place during a conflict that was forced upon us, and to draw every necessary conclusion – there is no force in Israel stronger than the law.”
Ban responded by saying, “I appreciate your thoughtful and considered voice, even in complicated days, and I want to take this opportunity to express my deep horror upon hearing of the terror attack in Tel Aviv.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, the Secretary General said, “The city is welcoming you with a festive storm and I hope you will be able to enjoy a little of the respite which has been forced upon you. The snow will not disrupt our plans, perhaps just delay them slightly.”
The UN Special Session to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which includes Rivlin’s speech, was scheduled for Tuesday, but due to the snowstorm will now take place on Wednesday at 12:00 p.m. EST.
January 27 was designated as a International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the United Nations General Assembly in 2005. It was on this date in 1945 that Soviet troops liberated the Auschwitz death camp.
In 2013, the European Union incorporated International Holocaust Remembrance Day into its official calendar for the first time.