Holland envoy becomes head of Int’l Holocaust Task force (JERUSALEM POST) By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL 03/11/11)
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BERLIN – Dan Tichon, a former Knesset speaker, handed over the
chairmanship of the International Holocaust Task Force to Ambassador
Karel P.M. de Beer of the Netherlands in Berlin on Tuesday.
The ITF, whose full name is the Task Force for International
Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research, seeks
to expand Holocaust education as a global project.
Meanwhile, The Jerusalem Post learned from an official with access to
the membership application process that Croatia has blocked Serbia’s
efforts to join the ITF.
Daniel Gluncic, a spokesman for the Croatian Embassy in Berlin, told
the Post on Wednesday that the denial of Serbia’s application “was
not a topic” at Tuesday’s event. He said, however, that he could not
say whether or not there had been a Croatian government decision to
stymie Serbia’s chances for membership.
The Post source at the event said the push to deny entry to Serbia
was filled with historic irony because the Croatian fascist Ustashe
separatist movement during World War II was aligned with Nazi Germany
and waged an extermination campaign against Serbs and Jews in the
The Israeli government held the chairmanship of the 28-nation member
organization for a year.
In an interview with the Post in Berlin on Tuesday, Task Force
coordinator Jacob Rosen, a former Israeli ambassador to Jordan, said
the Dutch have “a lot of experience in Holocaust education.”
The Netherlands helped found the Task Force in 1998 and is chairing
the group for the second time.
Rosen, asked about the highlights of Israel’s chairmanship, said an
International Training Team was introduced to foster education in
countries seeking to gain admittance to the Task Force. Portugal,
Slovenia and Macedonia are at different stages of meeting the
criteria for acceptance.
In December, according to Rosen, the ITF jump-started a “liaison
committee” to promote talks with the governments of Libya, Algerian,
Tunisia and Morocco. The Nazis set up detention camps for Jews in
many North African countries. German troops worked closely with the
Vichy France to persecute and detain Jews in North Africa.
Rosen also noted that on Israel’s watch a series of six lectures,
which can be accessed on the Task Force website
(www.holocausttaskforce.org), were implemented to raise awareness
about Holocaust education.
Rosen said Israel’s chairmanship sought to expand the “scope of the
ITF to go beyond Europe into new emerging democracies like India,
Brazil and Philippines.” He also cited New Zealand and Japan as
countries for the ITF to focus on.
Tichon’s chairmanship was marked by statements criticizing the
treatment of the Roma and Sinti populations (both are known as
Gypsies). In September, Tichon said in a statement, “As the chair of
an organization dedicated to the remembrance of the Holocaust and the
victims of genocide during the Second World War, I am deeply troubled
to see the Roma subjected to racial prejudice, hate crimes,
expulsions, and even in some cases murder. I condemn these practices
and call on all governments to protect the rights of this vulnerable
minority, whose communities still suffer from their persecution and
genocide under Nazi rule.”
The Task Force has a consensus-driven decision making process among
its 28 members. That helps to explain why countries like France and
Hungary, which are both members, were not cited in Task Force
statements for their alleged mistreatment of the Roma and Sinti
communities. Diplomatic sensitivities —similar to the UN Security
Council voting structure — play an enormous role when a chairman
seeks to garner a consensus vote.
France’s deportations of Roma and Sinti last year prompted widespread
EU criticism of its anti-immigration policies.
Tichon sharply criticized Tehran in September for spreading
Holocaustdenial material. “It has come to my attention that a
foundation linked to the Iranian regime has recently launched a
website in English, Arabic and Farsi, dedicated to disseminating
Holocaust-denial propaganda and anti- Semitic imagery to an
international audience. The website promotes the idea that the
Holocaust is a myth fabricated to advance the interests of the Jews
and the State of Israel. Through crude cartoons and pseudo-historical
statements it depicts Jews as murderers and money-worshippers,”
Tichon said in a statement.
He added, “The Iranian government has a history of vocal Holocaust
denial and anti-Semitism. The ITF issued a statement against the
caricature contest held by the Iranian government in 2006 intending
to ridicule the Holocaust.
In 2009, the ITF chair from Norway condemned the anti-Semitic hate
speech propagated by the Iranian president.
Now, as the ITF chair for 2010, I am also compelled to condemn, in
the strongest terms, this latest incitement to Holocaust denial
intended to spread vile anti-Semitic propaganda over the Internet.”
(© 1995 - 2011 The Jerusalem Post. 03/11/11)
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