By B. Cohen
A furore has broken out in Ireland after organizers of the forthcoming Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27 decided to ban any mention of Israel at the event.
“The trustees of Holocaust Educational Trust Ireland (HETI) have instructed the host of the country’s main Shoah memorial event in January ‘not to refer to the Jewish State or the State of Israel during any part of the ceremony,'” the London-based Jewish Chronicle newspaper reported.
The ban follows a similar bar imposed just days before this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day in Ireland, when long-standing host Yanky Fachler was told to avoid mentioning Israel, the JC said.
He reluctantly complied when his objections fell on deaf ears but, afterwards, complained in writing to the organising body, HETI – only to be told the rule will again apply at January’s event at Dublin’s Mansion House.
Six days later, Fachler received a letter from HETI chair Peter Cassells telling him he was being replaced after 12 years in the job.
“I felt like I’d been hit very hard in my stomach,” Fachler said. The HETI decision “plays directly into the hands of everyone who doesn’t like Jews or Israel and I find it very sad that apparently the two Jewish members of the board did this,” he said.
The JC noted that Alan Shatter, a Jewish politician and former Justice and Equality Minister, “emphatically denied” that he had asked for Fachler to be sacked at a meeting with HETI to review the Holocaust commemoration event.
“I’m concerned that board members of HETI have been influenced in how they’re approaching this issue by the hostility towards Israel in some sections of Irish public discourse and by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement,” Shatter told the JC, after describing Fachler as an “outstanding” Master of Ceremonies.
Indeed, in his address to the 2014 commemoration ceremony in Dublin, Shatter specifically pointed out that “Holocaust denial is the favorite sport of some, in particular in Europe, and in the Middle East. It is the first cousin of those who still see Jews, for no reason other than they are Jewish, as legitimate targets for hate speech and random violence and of extremists who would, if they could, bring about a second Holocaust by the extermination of the 6 million Jews who today are citizens of the State of Israel.”
HETI’s website currently carries no mention on the ban upon mentioning Israel at the January 2015 commemoration event. The organization continues to promote a July 2015 seminar for Holocaust educators at Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum in Jerusalem.
Maurice Cohen, chairman of the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland, said: “This decision is both reprehensible and unacceptable to the wider Irish Jewish Community and is at complete variance with the stated aims and objectives of the trust. The community is horrified.”