The Israeli-Jewish Congress Participates in Historic International Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony
in Vienna, as part of 16th Vienna Congress
28 January, 2019
[VIENNA] The Israeli-Jewish Congress (IJC) was honored to participate in the 16th Vienna Congress on 26 – 29th January 2019, which on 27th January, for the first time, held a powerful and moving International Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony.
The Vienna Congress, which was held this year under the theme ‘Shaping the Future’, was initiated by Austrian public figure David Unger-Klein, bringing together leading politicians, Nobel laureates, academics, entrepreneurs and opinion makers from Europe, Israel and around the world, to discuss the most pressing economic, security and political challenges facing Europe and the world.
2019 was the first year that the Vienna Congress commemorated the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which was held in the presence of Karoline Edtstadler, the State Secretary in the Ministry of Interior, on behalf of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, as well as Talya Lador, Israel’s Ambassador to Austria, Vaclav Klause, former President of the Czech Republic and many distinguished guests.
Addressing the high-level gathering in Vienna’s Industry House, IJC President Vladimir Sloutsker noted, given the current situation of rising Antisemitism in Europe today, “one may be forgiven for asking if indeed the necessary lessons of the Holocaust have been learnt?”
Sloutsker further noted that:
Until now, the international community has focused attention on ‘minimizing’ Antisemitism, however, what is needed is a paradigm shift in the way we fight this hatred, with a focus to eradicate Antisemitism completely! To achieve this, we must be more proactive, smarter and more creative.”
Sloutsker concluded his remarks by stressing that although remembering the Holocaust and commemorating the 6 million Jews who were murdered is imperative and necessary, “remembrance alone is not enough – we must also act to ensure that the appropriate lessons have been learnt.”
Also speaking at the ceremony was Ambassador Ron Prosor, Israel’s former Ambassador to the United Nations, who noting that it has been 74 years since the end of the Holocaust, “the scourge of Antisemitism still permeates, like a cancer mutating through the generations” and that today, “the State of Israel is the only guarantee that the future fate of the Jewish people will be held in our own hands.”
The evening’s highlight was the Vienna Congress awarding the ‘Golden Arrow’ Lifetime Achievement prize, its highest award, to former Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom.
The prestigious award is granted annually to “people for realizing extraordinary visionary ideas in an exceptional manner” and “for making the impossible possible.”
The award was given to Shalom for his decisive contribution and initiative in 2005 as Foreign Minister of Israel, where he lead the successful effort to pass the historic resolution at the United Nations to recognize the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Initially, the award was meant to be presented to Shalom jointly with Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General, who greatly supported this initiative, but died in August last year.
The award was presented by former Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who is also Chair of the Vienna Congress Advisory Board and accepted by IJC President Vladimir Sloutsker and Ambassador Ron Prosor, on behalf of Silvan Shalom, who could not attend in person.
Upon receiving the prize however, Shalom noted:
As Israel’s foreign minister, the achievement I am most proud of is leading the historic UN decision to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
With the alarming rise in anti-Semitism and the last generation of survivors, the task of commemorating the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, together with learning the lessons of the past to create a better tomorrow, has never been more urgent or necessary.”
The Israeli delegation to the Vienna Congress also included Nobel Prize laureates Dan Schechtman and Ada Yonath, who gave a number of keynote addresses, as well as Ambassador Dan Oryan from the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a number of leading Israeli entrepreneurs.
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