Obama to Make Rare Appearance at Israeli Embassy for Holocaust Ceremony

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President Barack Obama speaks about US - Iranian relations, including the Iranian-American nationals that were jailed in Iran and are being freed as part of a prisoner swap, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, January 17, 2016.
President Barack Obama.Credit: AFP

U.S. President Barack Obama will make an extremely rare appearance at the Israeli embassy in Washington next Wednesday, where he will make a speech at a ceremony marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day and honoring four men and women who saved Jews during World War Two. 

The ceremony, held in cooperation with Yad Vashem, will posthumously recognize two Polish citizens – Walery and Marylta Zbijewski – and two Americans – Roddie Edmonds and Lois Gunden – as Righteous Among the Nations. 

The Israeli embassy stated that this would be the first time this ceremony is held in the U.S. The families of the four people to be honored will attend, alongside top administration officials, congressmen and Jewish community representatives. 

“It is a great privilege to recognize, on behalf of the Jewish state, the heroism of those to whom the Jewish people owe the highest debt of gratitude," Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, said in a statement. "I also deeply appreciate President Obama’s acceptance of our invitation to speak at this historic event.  It will be a worthy tribute to the worthiest among us.”

A senior Israeli official noted that this would be the first time an American president arrives at the Washington embassy since President Clinton signed the condolence book on the premises after Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination. "But an act when an American president makes a speech at the Israeli embassy in Washington – that's unprecedented," the official said. 

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