UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Opts to Skip Holocaust Event for the First Time in a Decade

This year, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has decided not to attend the annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day event at a prominent New York City synagogue, Park East Synagogue. However, this time, Guterres has chosen to step back, emphasizing that the focus of the event should be on survivors and addressing the “pain” of the Jewish community grappling with antisemitism amid the Israel-Hamas war.

Why Guterre Was Absent in the Event – His Statement?

In response to the terror attacks by Hamas on October 7 and the subsequent surge in anti-Semitism, along with the ongoing pain felt by the community, the Saturday service at Park East Synagogue will be dedicated to healing and the testimonies of survivors. A spokesperson for Guterres conveyed this information to the New York Jewish Week via email, noting that the event will not cater to the diplomatic community.

Consequently, the Secretary-General has opted not to attend. The decision regarding Guterres’ exclusion from the ceremony remains unclear, with no confirmation on whether it was initiated by the synagogue, the secretary-general, or if it was a mutual agreement! The ceremony is scheduled to take place at the Upper East Side Orthodox congregation on Saturday, January 27, a date designated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day by the UN General Assembly in 2005.

According to an email response from Park East, this year’s event will specifically center around the Shoah, the brutal attack on Israel that occurred on October 7, the issue of kidnapped individuals, the global surge in anti-Semitism, and the internal struggles faced by the community.

Israel’s acting consul general in New York, Aviv Ezra, is set to participate in the event, alongside the synagogue’s rabbi, Arthur Schneier, and the families of Holocaust survivors. The program is expected to include testimonies from a former Gaza hostage and from the brother and sister of a current hostage still held by Hamas, as indicated by the synagogue.

Israel Criticizing Guterres

Guterres’ decision to skip the event comes amid significant criticism from Israel and its supporters regarding his response to the war. While he denounced Hamas’ invasion of Israel on October 7, his statement connecting the terrorist attack to issues such as occupation, settlements, and economic problems drew from Israelis. Israel’s UN ambassador, Gilad Erdan, even called for Guterres’ resignation in response.

Additionally, Guterres is not anticipated to attend a Holocaust Remembrance Day event hosted by the Israeli mission to the UN, according to the mission. Instead, he is slated to participate in a Friday memorial ceremony at UN headquarters, attended by Erdan and the State Department’s antisemitism envoy, Deborah Lipstadt, as per the UN schedule.

Advocates in Israel have been urging Guterres to speak more forcefully in support of Hamas hostages, staging weekly protests outside his Sutton Place home. Although they have developed a relationship with the UN chief, they believe he should do more by unequivocally supporting the captives without coupling criticism of Hamas with condemnation of Israel.

Shany Granot-Lubaton, a leader of the protest group, expressed disappointment over Guterres’ absence from the Park East Synagogue event, considering it a “missed opportunity.” She emphasized that Guterres’ presence would send a crucial message to the world, especially after the recent tragic events. Despite this, the protest group plans to extend invitations to Guterres for other Holocaust memorial ceremonies involving the Jewish community, hoping he chooses to attend and show support.

Notably, Guterres has been delivering a speech at Park East for International Holocaust Remembrance Day every year since taking office in 2017. Last year, he expressed that it was an “enormous privilege” to address the event.

Its occurrence serves as a stark reminder that such atrocities can happen again,” he stated. “Our duty is to remain perpetually vigilant. Antisemitism is often likened to the canary in the coal mine of freedom. Over the centuries, the persecution of Jews has been emblematic of societies in decay.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!
Scroll to Top