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Times Will Tell

Podcast: New Yad Vashem head on why Holocaust distortion has overtaken denial

In a conversation days after Colleyville synagogue attack, Dani Dayan speaks about Holocaust education as a way of mitigating antisemitism and how his institution can take the lead

This week in honor of the January 27 International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Times Will Tell spoke with Dani Dayan, the new head of Yad Vashem, in his Jerusalem-based museum and Holocaust education center.

We met a few days after the Colleyville hostage situation, in which four Jews were held captive for some 11 hours in their Reform synagogue in what was arguably an antisemitic attack. We discuss what role Holocaust education could play in mitigating such attacks and how Dayan once naively thought they would not occur in the United States.

Dayan was born in 1955 in Argentina and moved to Israel in 1971. Prior to heading Yad Vashem, he was the Consul General of Israel in New York. Before that, he was a longtime activist and head of the right-wing Settler Movement’s Yesha Council.

In the most recent elections, he ran on Gidon Sa’ar’s New Hope ticket and was appointed chair of Yad Vashem by the party’s Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton in August.

Then-consul-general of Israel to New York Dani Dayan visits the Tree of Life synagogue one year after a gunman killed 11 worshipers, October 2019 (courtesy Consulate General of Israel in New York)

Despite his former political ties, Dani affirms that he and Yad Vashem are strictly non-partisan in their work — and why with an escalation of Holocaust distortion throughout European governments, that is increasingly important.

“In almost every single European country there were collaborators with the Nazis, perpetrators of war crimes against the Jews,” says Dayan. “We have an obligation to speak against a) any distortion of the Shoah, b) any limitations, for sure criminalization, of historical research.”

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