Holo­caust sur­vivor’s pol­i­tics of hate warn­ing

New Ross Standard - - NEWS - BY DAVID LOOBY

THE RISE of na­tion­al­ism across the world is a cause for great con­cern, Holo­caust sur­vivor Tomi Re­ichen­tal told an au­di­ence at the Kennedy Sum­mer School at St Michael’s The­atre.

Peter Cas­sells, Di­rec­tor of the Edward M Kennedy In­sti­tute at Maynooth Univer­sity, wel­comed Tomi and Shaykh Dr Muham­mad Umar Al- Qadri to New Ross on Thurs­day night, say­ing: ‘It’s one of the great ex­am­ples to us all how you em­braced each other and how you have be­come good friends.’

A har­row­ing and il­lu­mi­nat­ing doc­u­me­na­try about Tomi’s life called ‘Con­demned to Re­mem­ber’ was shown, de­pict­ing the hor­ror Nazism reaped on Jewish fam­i­lies, like Tomi’s, who lost 35 fam­ily mem­bers to Nazi vi­o­lence dur­ing World War II. Gerry Greg, writer and di­rec­tor on A Love Di­vided, the film about the Fethard Boy­cott, was also in at­ten­dance.

Tomi said he re­turned to his home town in Slo­vakia in the doc­u­men­tary and vis­ited the coun­try from where Nazi’s took him as a child to Auschwitz and was hor­ri­fied by the na­tion­al­is­tic fer­vour he found there. He said he felt it was very im­por­tant for him to show in his doc­u­men­tary how his­tory is re­peat­ing it­self. He also vis­ited Sre­brenica to speak to vic­tims of the ethic cleans­ing there.

‘No­body wanted the Jews in 1939 and to­day we see peo­ple want to es­cape and no­body wants them ei­ther so I want to bring the at­ten­tion of peo­ple as what is hap­pen­ing is so wrong.’

Dr Al- Qadri said wher­ever there is ha­tred and there is a dis­tance be­tween com­mu­ni­ties mis­un­der­stand­ing grows. He said only through com­mu­ni­ties en­gag­ing with one an­other and through real in­ter­ac­tion can ha­tred and mis­un­der­stand­ing be erad­i­cated. In the doc­u­men­tary Tomi cel­e­brate his 80th birth­day at a mosque. Dr Al- Qadri said his story res­onated with the Mus­lims in at­ten­dance that day.

Mr Greg said the film ‘Con­demned to Re­mem­ber’ goes on gen­eral re­lease in Ire­land on Novem­ber 3rd and will be shown at sev­eral cin­e­mas, but also in nu­mer­ous cin­e­mas across the coun­try for stu­dents, where Tomi will give talks. Mr Greg said in ‘Con­demned to Re­mem­ber’ the crew recorded a mo­ment of fra­ter­nity and unity across reli­gions. ‘It’s about the com­mon bonds of hu­man­ity.’

Dr Al- Qadri ex­pressed con­cern that so­ci­ety has not learned from its past mis­takes and that to­day Mus­lims are be­ing tar­geted, whereas 70 years ago Jews were. ‘Ed­u­ca­tion is the key to it. Peo­ple are not born with ha­tred. The ha­tred comes af­ter­wards,’ Tomi said.

For­mer Fianna Fail sen­a­tor Jim Walsh said: ‘Your mes­sage con­trasts sharply with the open­ing speaker (Katherine Zappone) tonight.’

He asked Dr Al- Qadri’s opin­ion on the ef­fect the grow­ing num­ber of Saudi state funded mosques across the world are hav­ing on Mulims.

Dr Al- Qadri ex­pressed con­cern about Saudi Arabia’s ver­sion of Is­lam, which he said is not nec­es­sar­ily ter­ror­is­tic but makes for very dog­matic and iso­lated fol­low­ers. He said it can be a step­ping stone to­wards rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion.

As the night drew to a close at around 10.45 p.m. Tomi and Dr Al- Qadri re­ceived a stand­ing ova­tion from the crowd.

Lucy Nolan, Amy Flem­ing, Niall Bres­lin, Leah Ryan and Laura Doyle.

Sea­mus O’Neill and Jim Walsh at the launch of the JFK ar­chive.

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