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December 18, 2014 3:06 pm

Irish Holocaust Education Trust Had Misgivings About Israel From Very Beginning, Fired MC Claims

avatar by Ben Cohen

Yanky Fachler addresses a Warsaw Ghetto Uprising commemoration in Dublin in 2013. Photo: Michael FitzGerald, Clontarf Media

The row over the banning of the words “Israel” and “Jewish state” from Ireland’s forthcoming official Holocaust memorial ceremony on January 25 continues to fester, despite assurances from Holocaust Education Trust Ireland (HETI), the body which organizes the event, that the ban has been retracted.

Yanky Fachler, the long-standing MC of the event who was informed by HETI in October that his services would no longer be required following a similar quarrel this year, told The Algemeiner that there was precious little indication that the body had satisfactorily dealt with its misgivings about Israel’s role in the ceremony that, he claimed, have been present ever since the first commemorative event in Dublin was held in 2003.

“It is disingenuous for HETI to claim that the Israeli ambassador has attended and participated in the Holocaust memorial Day ceremony since 2003,” Fachler said, in reference to HETI’s statement that “the Israeli ambassador has attended and participated in the ceremony since its inception in 2003 and will do so again in January 2015. ”

“Until a couple of years ago, that ‘participation’ was silent – and consisted of lighting one of the candles for the 6 million,” Fachler said.

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Fachler said that until he helped to negotiate a compromise between the Israeli Embassy and HETI, whereby the ambassador’s role was enhanced through a reading as well as the lighting of a candle, the Israelis had been poised to boycott the official ceremony, holding their own event instead. He pointed out that in the booklet which HETI hands out to participants in the memorial ceremony, “there has never been a greeting from the Israeli ambassador.”

Most seriously, Fachler claimed that Lynn Jackson, the Executive Director of HETI, had accused him, four days before this year’s memorial ceremony, of “politicizing” the event when she instructed him to remove a reference to “the vicious campaign” against Israel in his own speech (Fachler’s intended remarks are reproduced in full below.)  In the end, Fachler said, his dilemma over whether to defy Jackson was resolved by the speech of the then Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, who referred to the “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.”

Despite repeated telephone and email attempts by The Algemeiner to get a response from HETI to Fachler’s latest comments on the scandal, none was forthcoming by press time.

Meanwhile, the Board of Deputies of British Jews has now weighed in upon the controversy.

“It is totally inappropriate for the commemoration of the greatest crime against the Jewish people to have an edict prohibiting mention of the Jewish State,” the Board said in a statement. “Israel was the aspiration of so many of the victims of the Holocaust and provided refuge for survivors.  Had it existed earlier it could have been the refuge of so many more.”

(Following are the remarks which Yanky Fachler intended to deliver at this year’s ceremony; the comments allegedly objected to by Lynn Jackson appear in the penultimate paragraph.)

The Holocaust showed us how science that can heal – was used to kill.

The Holocaust showed us how education that can enlighten – was used to rationalize away basic moral impulses.

The Holocaust showed us how the bureaucracy that sustains modern life – was used as the machinery of mass death.

The Holocaust showed us how easily civilized society can slip into deliberate, cynical and brutal genocide.

As our annual Day of Remembrance draws to a close, every one of us here today – Jew, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Humanist, believer, non-believer – from whatever ethnic, cultural and political persuasion – must make a pledge to truly eradicate intolerance from our midst.

We must drown out the vile voices that seek to deny that the human catastrophe we call the Shoah ever happened.

We must denounce the corrosive rise in racist and antisemitic rhetoric by a malign minority of politicians.

And we owe it to the victims, to the survivors, and to ourselves, to prevent the memory of the Holocaust being cynically distorted and hijacked by a vicious campaign that denies the Jewish people and the Jewish state – our past and our future.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining us in this evening of solemn commemoration.

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