Wiesenthal Centre to President of Ireland: “BDS and Deligitimization of Israel Campaigns Must Not Tarnish the Solemnity of Holocaust Commemoration Day in Dublin”

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“The Holocaust cannot be decoupled from the children and grandchildren of its victims, whether in Israel or its targets of antisemitism in the Diaspora.”

“The Irish people have known great suffering and have much in common with the struggle for Jewish self-determination.”

Paris, 13 December 2014

In a letter to Irish President, Michael Higgins, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Director for International Relations, Dr. Shimon Samuels, noted that, “on Tuesday 27 January 2015, you will be the guest of honour at Dublin Mansion House for the annual Holocaust Memorial Day. That 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau has been blemished by an uproar regarding the reported directive by the NGO organizer, the Holocaust Educational Trust Ireland (HETI), ‘not to refer to the Jewish State or the State of Israel during any part of the ceremony’.”

Samuels lamented that, “apparently HETI has fired the Master of Ceremonies of the last 12 years, ostensibly at the bidding of the Justice and Equality Department – the government authority for this commemoration. Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter, himself Jewish, has denied HETI’s allegation and condemned any ban on mention of Israel, suggesting that the decision was ‘influenced by the hostility towards Israel in some sections of Irish public discourse and by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement’.”

The letter stressed to the President that, “despite your reported personal reservations regarding the Jewish State, we are sure that as an eminent poet you must be sensitive to its Holocaust legacy.”

Samuels directed the President’s attention to a clip of emaciated survivors in rags at the liberation of Bergen-Belsen by British forces, singing in fragile voices “Hatikva” (“the Hope”), explaining that “its words call for the realization of ‘that hope of 2,000 years to be a free people in the Land of Israel and Jerusalem’, and which three years later became the national anthem of the State of Israel (please click on “Skip Add”:

Samuels argued that “the Irish people have known great suffering along the road to its national liberation and has much in common with the struggle for Jewish self-determination,” adding, “had there been a Jewish state in the 1930’s, of whatever dimension, there may have been a war, but no Holocaust.”

The letter pointed out that, “Irish and Jewish soldiers both volunteered to join British units against the Nazi menace. In 1945, Irish veterans could return to neutral Ireland, while it took three years in internment camps for the Jewish people to return to history, geography and sovereignty – only in 1948.”

Samuels insisted that “the Holocaust cannot be decoupled from the children and grandchildren of its victims, whether under terrorist and potential nuclear threat in Israel or as targets of antisemitism in the Diaspora. Of the 194 United Nations members, Israel is the sole State existentially endangered. To exclude Israel from Holocaust Memorial Day is tantamount to Holocaust obfuscation and revisionism. It would also violate the Irish government’s commitment to the 2000 Stockholm Declaration.”

“Mr. President, our Centre calls on you to condemn this outrageous campaign of BDS and the delegitimization of Israel, to ensure that it does not tarnish the solemnity and respect due to the 6,000,000 Jewish victims to be commemorated in Dublin,” concluded Samuels.

For further information, please contact Shimon Samuels at +33 609 7701 58,  join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter page or mobile device.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).