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UN Secretary General Mr. António Guterres Speech at Beit Hatfutsot

UN Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres delivered the closing Speech of his special visit to Israel at Beit Hatfutsot – The Museum of the Jewish People.


Mr. Guterres was welcomed by Beit Hatfutsot’s board of directors chairwoman, Irina Nevzlin, CEO of the Museum of the Jewish People, Dan Tadmor, co-chair of Beit Hatfutsot’s Board of Governors, Major-General (Ret.) Eitan Ben-Eliahu, and accompanied by Israel’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Danny Danon.

Mrs. Nevzlin greeted our Honorable guest in her opening address to the Distinguished invitees:

“Mr. Guterres, we welcome you today as a kindred spirit, a partner and a friend. Your long life of service to your country and to the world has been based on values that define your character: Deep compassion for humanity A pluralistic belief that all people deserve the chance to fulfill their potential regardless of their race, nation, faith, color or gender and an eternal hope that progress can and will be achieved if we have the courage to make it happen.

Irina Nevzlin, Antonio Guterres and Danny Danon at Beit-Hatfutsot (photo: Aviv Hofi)

Secretary Guterres began his speech by condemning anti-Semitism and the fact that “so many communities where Jews once lived and survived for so many centuries no longer exist because of countless waves of persecution and genocide”.

The secretary general said that he is ashamed that his own country, Portugal, “is marred by this history. When I became prime minister of Portugal in 1995, I felt it was my duty to demonstrate my country’s remorse for the Portuguese inquisition and centuries of merciless attacks against Jews. In 1996 our parliament revoked the expulsion edict. This was an admittedly symbolic act, but the spirit of repentance was genuine”.

UN Secretary General, Mr. António Guterres (Photo: Aviv Hofi)

While condemning anti-Semitism in general, Secretary General Guterres condemned “any call for the destruction of Israel” as a form of the same. Israel, he said, is a “member state of the United Nations and bears all the responsibilities and enjoys all the rights of all member states, and therefore must be treated as such”.

“I am honored to speak to you today after visiting the Museum of the Jewish People. This Museum tells a story stretching over millennia and reaching all corners of the world. The remarkable rich mosaic is a Jewish legacy, but it is also an important part of the collective heritage of humanity, a showcase of its highest summit and its lowest depth. I was deeply moved by the eloquent testimony relayed by the Museum regarding the history of Portuguese Jews, their predicament and their success around the world”.

A special gift from Beit Hatfutsot

Sec. Guterres was given a memoir special present from the Museum of the Jewish people – A book  capturing the historic life of the Jewish community in Portugal.

Book editor: Haim Ghiuzeli, director of the Databases Department | Graphic design: Neta Harel, director of Graphic Design

Beit Hatfutsot