Neturei Karta man fears ‘backlash’ over HMD
AHRON COHEN, the Manchester man ostracised by the city’s Jewish community for attending December’s Holocaust denial conference in Iran, said this week that Holocaust Memorial Day could spark an antisemitic backlash.
On BBC1’s Heaven and Earth show on Sunday, the member of the antiZionist Neturei Karta sect said that he would “not be comfortable” if the day had a specifically Jewish emphasis.
He did not, it was made clear, dispute the existence of the Holocaust.
But while Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) might have been intended to counter antisemitism, he argued: “I think the effect is just the opposite, that it could well produce antisemitism because of the feeling, why should concentration be made on the Jewish Holocaust as opposed to the other events of genocide which have sadly taken place in the world?”
David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary who also appeared on the programme, disagreed with Mr Cohen.
But he added: “I’m also very worried by the fact that his windows have been put in [smashed] by extreme fellowJews. We’ve got to get a message across that… we respect each other.”
Mr Blunkett was also concerned by last week’s YouGov poll for the JC, which found that more than a quarter of under-30-year-olds were unsure whether the Holocaust had happened.
“It is precisely because people do not know and do not remember that Holocaust Day is so important,” he said.
He rejected the idea of renaming the event Genocide Memorial Day, on the grounds that it would create argument over “what was genocide and what wasn’t”.
But he welcomed the Muslim Coun- cil of Britain’s review of its current boycott of the event, believing this would lead the MCB to reverse its decision.
Mr Cohen is participating in an event on Sunday in Rochdale sponsored by Interpal, the Palestinian charity, with speakers including the Respect MP George Galloway and former Labour MP Tony Benn. Other speakers are the Palestinian activist Dr Azzam Tamimi of the Muslim Association of Britain, and local Rochdale Muslims.