JERUSALEM (JTA) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his delegation to the World Holocaust Forum gave up their seats at the main ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem so that Holocaust survivors can have them.
A limited number of the 800 seats at the Forum ceremony on Thursday afternoon were set aside for survivors, Army Radio first reported. One Israeli government minister, Minister of Environmental Protection Ze’ev Elkin, announced after hearing the report that he would give up his seat for a survivor and called on his fellow ministers to do the same.
“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,” Zelensky, who is Jewish, said in a tweet.
Yad Vashem criticized the decision, reportedly calling it “puzzling.” “”It has been explained to the president that survivors who made inquiries have been answered and that one cannot give survivors the runaround in the present conditions. It is regretful that he made such a move at an event titled “Rememebering the Holocaust – fighting anti-Semitism,’” the Holocaust memorial and museum said in a statement given to Ynet.
Dozens of world leaders were in Israel on Thursday for the World Holocaust Forum, marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.