Unknown persons posted Hitler pictures and pornographic material on a virtual Holocaust memorial event. Israel’s ambassador to Berlin, Jeremy Issacharoff, speaks of an “outrageous disrespect”.
On Monday, unknown people seized a virtual commemoration of the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Day and posted anti-Semitic messages. The Israeli embassy had invited the event to a “memory in the living room”, which is freely accessible online because of the corona restrictions. Ambassador Jeremy Issacharoff talks about how he experienced the incident – and what he demands from politics.
TEH: Mr. Issacharoff, you had to cancel the digital Holocaust commemoration of your message. What happened?
Jeremy Issacharoff: Yom Haschoa’s Holocaust Remembrance Day started at sunset last night. Because of the corona restrictions on going out, we decided to hold it over the Internet with the video call platform “Zoom”. We hooked up the Holocaust survivor Tswi Herschel from Israel. He has lost almost all of his family members in the Shoah. But shortly after the start of our event at 8 p.m., participants appeared with anonymous profiles who uploaded pictures of Adolf Hitler and also pornographic material. Some shouted “Palestine” in English.
TEH: How did you react?
With horror. Yom Haschoa is a very sad day of remembrance, in Israel sirens sound for two minutes all over the country, then all public life comes to a standstill. It is a day in which many ceremonies commemorate the victims and pay tribute to the survivors. It is an indescribable shame that on such a commemoration day, when a person like Tswi Herschel tells about what he had to go through in the Holocaust, anti-Semites upload Hitler pictures. It is also an outrageous disrespect for the dignity of a person like Tswi Herschel.
TEH: Did you finish the memorial service?
We paused the transmission for a moment and then decided to continue. In the sequel, we only included those participants who had previously registered in the digital event, of which we could be certain that they were not anonymous troublemakers.
TEH: Anti-Semitic incidents are common in Germany. So far, there has been no disruption to a Holocaust memorial event.
My first reaction to the disturbance last night was therefore absolutely stunned. I have been an Israeli ambassador to Germany for three years, and what impresses me is the deep respect that most Germans have for the memory of the Holocaust. So far, as we speak, I find it difficult to accept what happened. I am not surprised that the interferers acted anonymously, probably also to avoid prosecution.
TEH: You have been ambassador to Germany for three years. Anti-Semitism is – unfortunately – everyday.
There are anti-Semitic statements, there are neo-Nazi demonstrations and many anti-Semitic incidents that worry me a lot, but also similar incidents in Europe and the USA. But what really surprised me yesterday is that there are people who disrupt a serious, dignified Shoah event in such a blatant, blatant way. I find that inhumane. It wasn’t a political event at all, it was just a memory of the victims and respect for the survivors. Politics didn’t matter at all.
TEH: Do you have any idea who could be behind the campaign?
Since the disruptors also called “Palestine”, one could speculate that the anti-Israeli boycott movement BDS is behind the incident. But it could also have been neo-Nazis. We are not sure.
TEH: In a few days, Israel will remember the fallen soldiers at Yom Hasikaron. Are you planning an event again?
Yes. But it is sad that in 2020 in Germany we will have to observe this security day with the highest security measures, especially now that we are experiencing that these virtual gatherings can also be misused.
TEH: Are you satisfied with how politics reacts to anti-Semitism?
What encouraged me are the reactions of some politicians. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, for example, tweeted immediately when he found out about the incident yesterday. But I would also like to say very clearly: if politicians in Germany say “Never again!”, This statement must also be followed by action. Anti-Semitism is not something that only poses a threat to Jews and Israelis. Anti-Semitism is a threat to Germany’s society in terms of its tolerance and democratic constitution. Everything has to be done – this is a political and moral imperative – to ensure that the memory of the Holocaust is not erased and now, in the present, anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and hatred have no place in Germany’s society. There must be zero tolerance, neither for attacks like that on the Jewish community in Halle nor on those on shisha bars in Hanau.
TEH: How did your guest react to the sturgeon campaign?
Tswi Herschel is a very impressive person. I spoke to him today. He has survived the Holocaust, he seemed to me unafraid of this incident and will not be stopped, continue to report on his experiences.