President Herzog’s first state visit

October 6, 2021 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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President Isaac Herzog has met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on his first state visit as the President of the State of Israel.

President Herzog and President Zelensky Photo: Haim Zac

He told President Zelensky about the cordial and moving encounters between his father—Chaim Herzog, the Sixth President of the State of Israel—and the first Ukrainian president, Leonid Kravchuk, leading to the establishment of relations between the two countries and President Kravchuk’s state visit in Israel.

President Herzog said: “The relationship between us is based on past, present, and future. The Jewish People have a glorious past in this land: some of the greatest Jewish and Israeli characters were born and raised here—religious and spiritual leaders, statesmen, Zionist thinkers, and prominent cultural figures. As you know, even today, many Israelis and Jews all around the world visit Ukraine on journeys to connect with their cultural and religious roots.

Yet in addition, the Jewish People also have a tragic and painful history here in Ukraine. From pogroms in previous centuries to the horrific massacre at Babi Yar, where we shall both be tomorrow, at the ceremony marking 80 years since the massacre. In my view, this past leads us to the present: a present in which Ukraine bears the important responsibility for the memory and history of the space and culture of the Jewish community that lived here throughout the ages, from the much-needed preservation of Jewish cemeteries to the establishment of memorial centres to commemorate the murdered Jews of Ukraine. These things are essential and worthy of praise, especially since they form the important foundation for a brave partnership—in the here and now—in the war against all forms of antisemitism and the construction of a shared, productive, successful, and promising future.”

He added: “I am deeply grateful to you, Mr President, and to the Ukrainian Parliament, for pushing for the legislation of a law that opposes and combats antisemitism, and also for Ukraine’s decision to refrain from participation at the Durban Conference. We must learn from history; the whole of humanity, and Europe in particular, cannot tolerate any form of antisemitism—not at protests, not in the erasure and denial of history, and not in the glorification of murderous figures from the past.”

President Herzog invited President Zelensky to visit him in Israel.

President Volodymyr Zelensky responded: “It is very symbolic that your first visit as President is to us, here in Ukraine. I see this as a symbol and a great honour. Israel is a friend and partner of ours in everything concerning diplomacy, trade, security, politics, and humanitarian issues. I am very grateful to the Israeli delegation, which has come to mark 80 years since the tragic massacre at Babi Yar. The memory of the victims is sacred for us, for every Ukrainian. With the President of Israel, we spoke about how a tragedy like the Holocaust must never happen again. I am confident that our meeting will strengthen the partnership between us.”

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