Jan. 23 (UPI) — Leaders from Russia, the United States and Israel gathered Thursday for the World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem, where each vowed to fight what they view as a rising tide of anti-Semitism.
Timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland, and International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the forum was staged in conjunction with the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and hosted by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
Rivlin opened the event by thanking Russian President Vladimir Putin, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, French President Emanuel Macron, Britain’s Prince Charles and dozens of other leaders for attending the forum.
Warning that “no democracy is immune,” Rivlin called anti-Semitism a “malignant disease” that doesn’t “stop with the Jews.”
Putin said the world holds a “shared responsibility to the past and the future” to remember the Holocaust.
The Kremlin leader also took a veiled critical shot at Poland, whose President Andrzej Duda skipped the event amid a spat with Russia over whether it aided Nazi forces during World War II.
“We mourn for all the victims of the Nazis, including six million Jews,” Putin said. “These death camps were operated not just by Nazis but by their henchmen in various countries.”
Pence and Netanyahu used the occasion criticize Iran, amid rising tensions stoked by a series of adversarial events that date back to last summer.
The U.S. vice president said the world must “stand strong” against Iran, which he described as “the leading state purveyor of anti-Semitism” that also “denies the Holocaust as a matter of state policy.”
“The world must stand strong against the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he declared.
The Israeli prime minister urged world leaders to forge “a unified and resolute stance” against Tehran, which he classified as “the most antisemitic regime on the planet.”
“Israel salutes President [Donald] Trump and Vice President Pence for confronting the tyrants of Tehran that subjugate their own people, and threaten the peace and security of the entire world,” Netanyahu said.
“They threaten the peace and security of everyone in the Middle East and everyone beyond. I call on all governments to join the vital effort of confronting Iran.”