Holocaust survivor to represent Israel at the UN

Danny Danon relinquishes seat at UN to 81-year-old Auschwitz survivor Martha Weiss in honor of International Holocaust Day.

Nitsan Keidar ,

Danon holds up photo of Israeli terror victims (file)
Danon holds up photo of Israeli terror victims (file)
UN Photo/Cia Pak

The United Nations General Assembly will mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day at its headquarters in New York on Wednesday.

In an unprecedented move, Israel's Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon has relinquished his seat and invited Holocaust survivor Martha Weiss to represent Israel in his stead. 

"I was very moved to receive the ambassador's invitation," Weiss said. "I never imagined as a child in the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp that someday I would represent the State of Israel at the UN."

Weiss, 81, who survived Auschwitz as a child, made aliyah to Israel 18 years ago and now lives in Jerusalem. She was personally chosen by Danon with the help of Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum to represent Israel at the UN ceremony. 

"I feel a great privilege to allow Martha to represent the State of Israel in the parliament of nations," Danon said. "Martha represents the story of the Jewish people, and in her speech on behalf of Israel she will show the values on which the Jewish state was built."

Also participating in the UN ceremony are Holocaust survivor Chaim Roth, who created the worldwide Holocaust memorial project "Unto Every Person There is a Name," and father of deputy head of the Israeli delegation to the UN, David Roth. 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President of the General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft, US ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers and Felix Klein, Germany's special representative for relations with Jewish organizations, will also attend. 

The keynote speech will be delivered by Beate Klarsfeld, the Nazi hunter who devoted years to the study of the Holocaust and to prosecuting Nazi war criminals.