Benjamin Netanyahu and Mike Pence visit Warsaw Ghetto revolt memorial

Ben Sales

(JTA) — Vice President Mike Pence and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participated in a wreath-laying ceremony with their wives at the Warsaw Ghetto Heroes Monument, a memorial to the Warsaw Ghetto revolt.

Pence and Netanyahu were in the Polish city to attend a conference on Middle East security along with heads of state from Europe and Gulf States that rarely meet openly with Israeli officials, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The countries share a goal of countering Iranian influence in the Middle East.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland, along with his wife, joined Pence and Netanyahu for the ceremony.

At the monument, which commemorates the 1943 revolt of Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto against the Nazis, Netanyahu hailed Israel’s defense capabilities and thanked the United States for its unparalleled alliance with Israel.

“When the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising took place, no one came here to help us,” he said. “Today we have built our own capacities to defend ourselves, but we have a great friend and the greatest friend of all is the United States of America.”

Pence, speaking to reporters before he met with Netanyahu at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, told the Israeli leader that it was “very humbling for me to be here with you in this very special place on this sacred ground. To hear a prayer sung, and to remember the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto.”

Pence is scheduled to make his first visit to the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz on Friday.