Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on January 23 reportedly announced that he and his country's delegation would give up their seats to the holocaust survivors at the Fifth World Holocaust Forum. In a Facebook post, Zelensky wrote that, however, he and the delegation world participate in all planned activities but the seats at the main event should go those who deserve them the most.
The Facebook post read, “Arrived in Israel and found out that it is difficult for many of those who survived the terrible tragedy of the Holocaust to attend the World Holocaust Forum because of the great interest in the event and the limited number of places. We have decided to give up my spot and those of the rest of the delegation in favor of these courageous, unique people”.
Zelensky also took to Twitter.
We learnt that many of the Holocaust survivors have not been able to visit the World Holocaust Forum. Our delegation gave them our seats, as many Israeli ministers did. These people deserve these honors most of all. We will participate in all events and hold scheduled meetings— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) January 23, 2020
However, Yad Vashem reportedly criticised Zelensky's decision. According to an international media outlet, Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Center said that it has been explained to Ukrainian President that the survivors contacted in previous days had already been responded. They further added that it would not be possible to contact others in the current situation.
The World Holocaust Forum was founded by the head of European Jewish Congress Moshe Kantor. The European Jewish Congress is a group that represents Jewish communities living across Europe. The group reported that 80 per cent of the Jews do not feel safe in Europe. Kantor established the World Economic Forum in the year 2005 and has conducted forums in Babi Yar, Auschwitz and the former concentration camp located in Terezin and January 23's event is the first time the forum is being conducted in Israel.
The WHF comes at a time when there has been a spike in anti-semitic violence. According to reports, violent attacks targetting Jews increased in the year 2018. A total of 400 cases were recorded. In Germany, a 70 per cent increase was recorded in anti-semitic violence against Jews. Pope Francis expressed his hope that with ongoing vigilance against such crimes and education on such matters, the violence representing one of the darkest periods of human history will be completely eradicated.