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To argue that there was no connection between Jews in Israel and Jews murdered by the Nazis “is like cutting away the roots and branches of a tree and saying to its trunk: I have not hurt you.” (The judges’ summing up at the Eichmann trial, 1962)

Holocaust Memorial Day has its genesis in the 2000 Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, where Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel served as honorary chair, and Israel’s Professor Yehuda Bauer served as senior Academic Advisor. Over forty nations signed The Stockholm Declaration calling for an annual Day of Holocaust Remembrance on 27 January, the date in 1945 that the Red Army liberated Auschwitz.

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In 2002, I joined an ad hoc committee that met in the Israeli Embassy in Dublin, with the aim of fulfilling Ireland’s commitment under the Stockholm Declaration. Dublin’s Lord Mayor offered to host the event, and the Irish Department of Justice came aboard with funding. My blueprint for the format of the inaugural Holocaust Memorial Day in January 2003 was accepted, and I was appointed Master of Ceremonies. Ireland’s Minister for Justice Michael McDowell apologised publicly for Ireland’s acts of omission and commission at the time of the Holocaust.

Holocaust Memorial Day soon came under the auspices of HETI – Holocaust Education Trust Ireland, and I was MC of the annual event for the next eleven years.

Days before the 2014 event, I received a verbal ultimatum from HETI: if I insisted on mentioning Israel or the Jewish state, I would be replaced as MC. HETI was referring to my closing remarks: “We must rededicate ourselves to preventing the memory of the Shoah being cynically trivialized and distorted by a vicious campaign that seeks to deny the Jewish people and the Jewish state their past and their future.” The words “and the Jewish state” were highlighted with a red marker. These words were deemed as “politicising” the event.

HETI’s ultimatum was not completely out of character. Two years earlier, my personal intervention was needed to prevent the Israeli Embassy from boycotting Holocaust Memorial Day, after HETI at first refused to allow the Ambassador to speak.

I responded to the ultimatum by pointing out the obvious connectivity between the Holocaust and Israel. As the judges said at the Eichmann trial in 1961: to argue that there was no connection between Jews in Israel and Jews murdered by the Nazis “is like cutting away the roots and branches of a tree and saying to its trunk: I have not hurt you.”

When I tried telling HETI that most of the world’s Holocaust survivors were in Israel, I was told that most survivors are in Australia. In itself, this reveals a woeful level of ignorance.

The Jewish Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter – who knew nothing about the ultimatum – said in his 2014 address that as Europeans and European nations, we “should also have a greater understanding of legitimate concerns aroused by threats made to eliminate the Israeli state and by political campaigns sponsored by states or others to delegitimize its existence. It is right that we remember that Israel declared its independence in 1948, its existence as a state having been first sanctioned and endorsed by United Nations Resolution, and that a majority of that states citizens in 1948 were Jews who would likely have perished in Europe had they not resided there in the preceding decades and remnants of European Jewry who survived the Holocaust.”

I shared my misgivings about HETI’s ultimatum to me with HETI’s chair, pointing out the danger that HETI could be perceived as being more concerned with dead Jews than with live Jews. In October 2014, HETI’s chair reiterated in a letter to me that the HETI Board had decided that any future MC may not mention Israel or the Jewish state. In a second letter a week later, HETI’s chair informed me that following a review of Holocaust Memorial Day instigated by the Department of Justice, my services were no longer required as MC.

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Broadcaster and writer Yanky Fachler (yanky@eircom.net) is a second-generation Holocaust survivor, and chair of the Jewish Historical Society of Ireland. Between 2003 and 2014, he was the MC of Ireland’s annual Holocaust Memorial Day event.

15 COMMENTS

  1. It is true Australia took in the second largest group of holocaust survivors. And their standard of living today is 83% higher than the survivors in Israel. But at the end of the war 95% of European Jewish refugees wanted to go to the real promised land.
    New York.

  2. On another note, that the Irish, of all people given the struggles they have had with the English through the centuries in trying to realize their own individual heritage, would attempt this severance is outrageous. The Druids must be wailing in their graves and the Oak trees must be withering at their roots.

  3. Terrible for Yanky that this had happened –
    in the end the Israeli Ambassador spoke well and to the point
    – but a great shame some people try to be so PC as to miss the point .

    Most Jews in DP camps wanted to go to Palestine in 1945 -1948 and were prevented from doing so .
    Later in 1949 and after many got to Israel and the USA and Canada eventually let some in as did Australia [where numbers are not great but as a proportion of Jewish Community numbers were high ]

  4. “HETI’s fear that mentioning Israel politicizes Holocaust Memorial Day reveals a position that is dangerously close to that of the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement.”

    If there is one thing I can say about Jews, it is that they try desperately hard to match the skill of the Arabs in never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity!

    In linking things that are totally unconnected they have played right into the hands of Jew-haters all over the world and their loudly proclaimed angst that “Palestinians are paying the price for the what Europe did to the Jews and that is why there can be no peace in the Middle East until the State of Israel has been destroyed.”

    To make that grave sin even graver, The Jewish Minister for Justice (of all people who should know better) Alan Shatter, said “Israel declared its independence in 1948, its existence as a state having been first sanctioned and endorsed by United Nations Resolution,”

    The existence of the state of Israel does not owe anything to the Holocaust of the Jews in Europe nor does it own anything to being “sanctioned and endorsed” by the UN. Israel met all the criteria for being an independent state. All the UN did, was to recognise it as such! So both of those claims are total red herring and a gift to Israel’s enemies.

    Israel’s modern-day roots in International Law start in the San Remo Resolution of 1920 – well over a quarter of a century before either the Holocaust or the UN's recognition of the State of Israel, in 1948. The UN resolution 181, of Nov 1947, to divide the land west of the Jordan River, between Jews and Arabs, is totally irrelevant because although the Jews accepted it, the Arabs rejected it outright and immediately began a war of annihilation to destroy the newly fledged Jewish state. Therefore because both parties did not agree to accept it, the UN Resolution is worthless, it is dead, it had no force or effect back in 1947 when rejected by the Arabs, nor does it have any today either.

    It was the Principal Allied Powers, who at the end of WW1 met with Arab and Jewish representatives in San Remo and agreed on how the territory of the vanquished Ottoman Empire, in the Middle East, was to be divided up. The Arabs accepted Syria and (now) Iraq, Whilst the Jews, because of their long standing and continuous connection to Israel, stretching back nearly 3500 years, were given what was then called, Palestine – An area that stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to borders of Iraq.

    The 1922, League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, which was given to Britain, provided details for administering the agreements reached at San Remo which gave the Jewish People political or national rights to Palestine.

    NOT the European Holocaust nor the beneficence of the UN.

    If you want to connect the State of Israel to the Jewish People go back to around 1409 BCE when they first arrived from Egypt. And remind people that there were still there when the Romans drove many of them out following the Jewish revolt, in 135AD; there were still communities of Jews in Israel when Muslim invaders came in 638; there were Jews in Israel when the European Crusades first started in 1099; there were Jews in Israel when the Ottomans came in 1516 and there was still Jews in Israel when the forces of General Allenby drove them out in 1917.

    Linking the establishment of the State of Israel to the Holocaust and giving that as the reason for its establishment, is what President Obama did in his Cairo speech to the Muslim world in 2009 and it was the height of stupidity to do such a thing. As it served only to give Arab Muslims renewed hope, that with Uncle Sam on their side, there was still a chance of seeing their Qur’anic based loathing for Jews being satiated with the destruction of the Jewish State.

  5. The two tablets of Moses, with their message of civic virtue under the watchful eye of an invisible Creator, that the Jews brought to the pagan world when they were exiled for that purpose are the foundation stones of Western civilization. Accepting the message, but hating the messenger, the world, after the newly-founded Church added deicide to its doctrine, was officially anti-Semitic for almost two millennia. After WWII the shame of complicity in the holocaust briefly silenced Europe, but now with the importation of Islam, anti-Semitism, newly disguised as anti-Zionism is all the rage. How could Ireland escape it?

  6. Not so. Israel was mentioned many times by various speakers including the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland.

    I missed my fiend Yanky Faschlar but the alternative MC, Ingrid Craige did a wonderful job. She should be congratulated.

    Joe Briscoe, Dublin.

  7. Further to my last comment, FrankBaigel and some other commentators were not present and should make this absolutely clear. How can you comment on a function that you did not attend?

    Sure we have anti Semitism in Ireland but not as bad as London Paris or Brussels.

    Let us hope and pray that Sinn Fein do not get into power at our General Elections next year.

    Joe Briscoe, Dublin

  8. Jews held in DP camps were under the authority of German officers. Gen. George Patton considered them "animals" . Germans "knew how to handle them." Jews were kept in camps while non- Jewish German, Ukrainian etc. refugees were allowed into the USS and Canada.

  9. Joseph I live in Ireland as well, I find the attitude of the Irish to we Jews woefully lacking. Ireland is well known for its favoring of Hitler and Nazi's. Not to put to finer a point on it I found in an antique book shop in Galway a signed copy of Mein Kampf I could not believe my eyes!. Any enemy of Britain is a friend to Ireland. That just about sums up Irish mentality. You are aware the fools in Ireland think the sun shines out of the proverbial backside of the Palestinians I assume. The only history taught in schools is biased. No wonder Europe is such a shambles with this kind of thinking.

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