20 November 2020
The European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) is deeply concerned by the proposed appointment of Israeli politician Effi Eitam to become Chairman of the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre – Yad Vashem.
As the democratic representation of Europe’s 160.000 young Jews, EUJS places a great deal of importance on Shoah remembrance and on cultivating the memory of the Shoah. For EUJS, as for many Jewish and non-Jewish organisations and individuals globally, Yad Vashem is a vitally important institution whose work and research on Shoah remembrance is rightly held as the foremost global institution on the topic. In addition to this, Yad Vashem contributes to the ideals of equality and anti-discrimination by illustrating the extremes at which unchecked hatred and discrimination can lead to.
At EUJS we are incredibly proud of our association and partnership with Yad Vashem. As part of this partnership, we hold an annual seminar at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, allowing 20 young adults to engage in Shoah education as part of an intensive week-long seminar. This partnership is able to flourish based on the shared values and principles which both EUJS and Yad Vashem hold dear and are guided by.
It is for this reason that EUJS is deeply concerned at the proposed appointment of Effi Eitam to the chairmanship of Yad Vashem. In 2006, Eitam was quoted as supporting the forcible transfer of Palestinians and endorsing the prevention of Israeli Arab participation in national Israeli politics. EUJS stands firmly against such damaging and divisive language as such divisive and intolerant rhetoric runs counter to our values. Whatsmore, Eitam’s political history as a political representative of a right-wing fringe party discredits his candidacy. Given the global role that Yad Vashem plays is one that should transcend politics, to politicise Yad Vashem as an institution would be deeply damaging for Jews, both in the diaspora and around the world. Such a divisive appointment would simply not be appropriate for the Chairperson of such a prominent and renowned institution and, moreover, would provide an opportunity for critics of Israel to, not only, delegitimise the Jewish state once more, but also discredit the fundamental work that Yad Vashem does. It is for these reasons that we join the growing voice of global opposition to the proposed appointment of Effi Eitam to Yad Vashem’s Chairmanship.
We urge the Israeli government to reconsider the proposed appointment of Effi Eitam to the Chairmanship of Yad Vashem. Shoah remembrance must not be political and, indeed, should be rooted on a human rights based approach. Our guiding principles of equality and human rights are not aligned with the values promoted by Eitam and it is for this reason that we strongly oppose his proposed appointment to the role.