Ne­turei Karta man fears ‘back­lash’ over HMD

The Jewish Chronicle - - HOME NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

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.

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