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Israel's education minister reportedly seeks Yad Vashem chief’s dismissal

Experts warn the move threatens memory of 6 million Jewish Holocaust victims

Dani Dayan, Yad Vashem chairman, at a book launch event at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, January 19, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Education Minister Yoav Kisch reportedly plans to dismiss Dani Dayan, director of Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, and replace him with a political ally, according to Israel's Channel 12 news.

Kisch accused Dayan of irregularities in the appointment of three Yad Vashem board members, which he argued was "a serious failure on your part as chairman of Yad Vashem, calling into question the legality of all the decisions made at management meetings since you were appointed to your position.”

Dayan rejected the education minister’s allegations.

“Kisch’s claims are partly unfounded, partly delusional and partly simply false,” responded the Yad Vashem chief.

As the world’s leading Holocaust memorial center, Yad Vashem is traditionally kept out of Israeli political turf wars. However, the Netanyahu-led government attack on Dayan is likely linked to the fact that he was appointed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former political rival, Naftali Bennett.

The U.S. special envoy for Holocaust Issues at the State Department, Ellen Germain, issued a statement of support for Dayan and Yad Vashem as an independent research institution.

“The US values the crucial work of Yad Vashem and its director’s leadership as we work together on Holocaust education, remembrance, and research. Maintaining the independence of such institutions around the world is key as we face efforts to distort/deny the facts of the Holocaust,” Germain wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Some prominent Israeli and international Holocaust experts who share Germain’s sentiment articulated “great concern” over the government’s planned dismissal of Dayan, including Prof. Yehuda Bauer, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, Prof. Dina Porat, Prof. Jeffrey Herf, Prof. Jan Grabowski, Prof. Dalia Ofer and Prof. Alvin Rosenfeld.

The experts further warned that the politicization of Yad Vashem “is a clear threat to the memory of six million victims of the Shoah, and a challenge to the legitimacy of an institution which enjoys tremendous, and well-deserved prestige, worldwide.”

Yad Vashem recently criticized the decision by Netanyahu's government to greenlight a high-level meeting between the Israeli Ambassador to Romania Reuven Azar and George Simion, the leader of Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR), a controversial right-wing opposition party accused of antisemitism.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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