Dozens of lawmakers gathered in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev on Monday for an international conference condemning anti-Semitism.
Participants at the event, organized by Ukrainian lawmaker and businessman Oleksandr Feldman, issued a joint declaration commemorating the 70th anniversary of the massacre of Jews by the Nazis at Babi Yar, which takes place next week.
“Babi Yar should be viewed as a symbol of man’s inhumanity to man and an example of the horrific cost which can be imposed in the name of hatred and intolerance,” the declaration stated.
Educational efforts must be reinforced all over the globe to establish the Babi Yar massacre as not simply another event within the horrific scope of the Holocaust, but as a telling indicator of the breadth of Nazi evil.”
During the two-day gathering delegates from over a dozen countries debated the significance of the Holocaust at the Ukrainian parliament with local lawmakers.
Vice President of the Bundetstag Petra Pau spoke on behalf of the German government saying events which took place in her country over 70 years ago were examples of why supporters of democracy must stay united against totalitarianism.
“Germany’s history teaches us that the reasons fascism gained power was not that the Nazis were so strong but because democrats were hopelessly divided on crucial issues,” the social democrat said. “This must be remembered when commemorating the millions of victims of the Holocaust.”
Israel’s representative to the conference, MK Alex Miller (Yisrael Beiteinu) used the opportunity to call on delegates to oppose the expected unilateral Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations.
“Nowadays we often see that anti-Semitism is being converted into anti-Israeli sentiment,” he said. “Recognizing a country which does not recognize us could potentially take us back to the dark times of the mid- 20th century.”
Other lawmakers in attendance included MPs John Mann and Denis MacShance of the UK; Raffi Hovannisian of Armenia; Yusuf Ziya Irbec of Turkey; and Rufat Guliyev of Azerbaijan.
“I first arrived in Kiev in 1975 to study and I know the city very well,” Guliyev said. “But before I visited Babi Yar I had never realized the size and significance of the Holocaust.”
At the end of the gathering participants issued a second declaration calling for the establishment of a museum in Kiev depicting the history of the Jews in Ukraine.
“So as to transform this important vision into reality, we call for broad international support – both moral and financial,” it said.
Feldman, who is also the head of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, said he hoped to turn the conference into an annual event.