Global leaders, including His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, have come to Jerusalem for the World Holocaust Forum. This year it is notably 75 years since the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945.
Dignitaries from all over the world were invited by Israel’s President, Reuven Rivlin, to take part in the World Holocaust Forum. Dozens of leaders, including Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi from the US, Prince Charles from the UK and Vladimir Putin from Russia, are joining with other presidents, prime ministers, royals and representatives from over 40 countries.
The forum will discuss matters pertaining to the Holocaust, just ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.
Israel’s relationship with British Royalty
For many years the Holy Land was considered too controversial for royal visits because of the conflict, so the attendance of His Royal Highness at this event suggests a new warmth in relationship between the British royal family and the State of Israel. Prince William broke with convention by coming to visit for a few days in 2018, and now his father has accepted the invitation from President Rivlin to Jerusalem.
This may be the first official visit that Prince Charles has made to Israel, but he came in an unofficial capacity for the funerals of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 and Shimon Peres in 2016. His father, the Duke of Edinburgh, has also been here to visit the grave of his mother, Princess Alice, in Jerusalem. Princess Alice was buried in Israel’s capital and recognized by Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous Among the Nations after saving a Jewish family from the Nazis in Greece.
Prince Charles spoke of his pride that his grandmother had been able to help in this way, and the privilege of meeting Holocaust survivors. He said, as one of seven chosen to address the forum,
“The Holocaust must never be allowed to become simply a fact of history: we must never cease to be appalled, nor moved by the testimony of those who lived through it. Their experience must always educate, and guide, and warn us. The lessons of the Holocaust are searingly relevant to this day. Seventy-five years after the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, hatred and intolerance still lurk in the human heart, still tell new lies, adopt new disguises, and still seek new victims.
“All too often, language is used which turns disagreement into dehumanisation. Words are used as badges of shame to mark others as enemies, to brand those who are different as somehow deviant. All too often, virtue seems to be sought through verbal violence. All too often, real violence ensues, and acts of unspeakable cruelty are still perpetrated around the world against people for reasons of their religion, their race or their beliefs.”1
What will come from this forum?
The gathering is purportedly to prevent such horrors as the world saw in the Holocaust ever happening again. However, expectations are not high that it will pave the way for world peace. Already leaders are making political jabs at one another and disagreeing on the definitions of genocide, or details such as when the Holocaust began, among other issues.
Even as the battle against Anti-Semitism is on the agenda, the world seems to be fomenting with hatred against Israel and the Jewish people. 2019 saw some horrendous attacks on Jewish people in the US, in Europe, and around the world, and the UN continues with its outrageous bias in singling Israel out for accusation.
No, our hopes are not in a forum, and this gathering of kings and dignitaries to Jerusalem is unlikely to bring any great answers. We know from God’s Word that the world will ultimately turn against Israel and Jerusalem in particular.
“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of reeling to all the surrounding peoples when they besiege Jerusalem as well as Judah. Moreover, in that day I will make Jerusalem a massive stone for all the people. All who try to lift it will be cut to pieces. Nevertheless, all the nations of the earth will be gathered together against her.” (Zechariah 12:2-3)
We also know that the ultimate destiny of Jerusalem is glorious, and that one day kings and dignitaries will come to God’s holy hill with an altogether different agenda:
Thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot, “Peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will again come. The inhabitants of one city will go to another saying ‘Let us go to entreat the favor of Adonai and to seek Adonai-Tzva’ot. I also am going.’ Indeed, many peoples and powerful nations will come to seek Adonai-Tzva’ot in Jerusalem, and to entreat the favor of Adonai.” Thus says Adonai-Tzva’ot, “In those days it will come to pass that ten men from every language of the nations will grasp the corner of the garment of a Jew saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” (Zechariah 8:20-23)
The only one who can shut down war and genocide forever is the Prince of Peace Himself. And He will come back to Jerusalem when His people invite Him with the words, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
Clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of joy!
For Adonai Elyon is awesome,
a great King over all the earth.
He subdues peoples under us,
and nations under our feet.
He chooses our inheritance for us,
the glory of Jacob whom He loved. Selah
God is gone up amidst shouting,
Adonai amidst the sound of the shofar.
Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth.
Sing praises with a skillful song.
God reigns over the nations.
God sits upon His holy throne.
The princes of the peoples are gathered as a people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of earth belong to God—
He is greatly exalted!
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- Times of Israel, Charles at Yad Vashem: Never cease to be appalled, moved, by survivor testimony, Justin Cohen, January 23, 2020