French President Francois Hollande landed in Israel yesterday, using a sizable portion of the state visit to tour the Jewish state’s Holocaust memorial.

The French leader’s visit to Yad Vashem also included Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and first lady Sara Netanyahu, as well as Israeli President Shimon Peres.

The small group toured the towering Hall of Names and took part in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance. The visit was followed by a press conference, at which Netanyahu recalled lessons of the Holocaust as a driving reason for Israel’s historic responsibility of protection for the Jewish people.


“We just came back from Yad Vashem. I am always moved when I’m there,” Netanyahu said.

“I was moved by the fact that you were so visibly moved,” the prime minister added to Hollande. “And you said, when you came out, that the experience of the Holocaust places a very special responsibility on all of us.”

“Francois, I want to tell you the burden it places on me, as the prime minister of Israel. It is my duty to prevent anyone from credibly threatening or executing another holocaust against the Jewish people. This is my obligation, but I also believe it’s our common obligation for the sake of mankind, for the sake of our common future.”

In return, the French leader expressed his sympathy for Jewish people’s persecution during the Shoah. Upon exiting the site, Hollande also penned a message in the Yad Vashem guestbook, writing, “Emotion and contemplation. The absolute tragedy that befell the Jewish people will mark us forever. It binds us.”