Anne Frank Trust admits vetting ‘failure’ after ‘antisemitic’ speaker invited

Nasima Begum had previously claimed Israel is committing a ‘Holocaust’ against Palestinians, justified Hamas rocket attacks and wished ‘death’ on a pro-Israel activist


The Anne Frank Trust has admitted a "failure" in its vetting process after it hosted a speaker who claimed that Israel is committing a "Holocaust" against the Palestinians.

Nasima Begum was invited by the anti-prejudice organisation to lead a workshop in storytelling, despite having made a number of comments in 2011 and 2012 claiming that Israel is committing “genocide” against Palestinians, justifying Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli cities, and writing to a pro-Israel activist: “death to you Zionist scum”.

In a statement on Thursday entitled “An unreserved apology", the trust announced the outcome of its internal investigation following widespread backlash at Ms Begum’s invitation given previous “antisemitic comments” on social media.

It said that the staff who organised the workshop “did not carry out appropriate due diligence” due to the “haste” in delivering the workshop before the end of the school year.

The trust said unequivocally that this was “a failure in due diligence”, adding that they are introducing new policies and procedures in response, as well as making improvements to their planning process “so that events are organised in a more timely manner”.

It added: “Of particular concern was the offence caused, especially to the Jewish community, by the choice of facilitator. We apologise unreservedly for this.

“Education to end antisemitism has been at the heart of our work for over 30 years and we remain as committed to this as ever.”

In comments highlighted on social media by antisemitism and Holocaust denial watchdog GnasherJew, poet and creative Nasima Begum compared Israel to Nazi Germany.

In 2011, she said: “What's sad is that the Jewish population faced genocide themselves in Hitler's Germany but they've implemented the same on Palestine for years.”

Just following the 2012 conflict with terrorist group Hamas, Begum tweeted a pro-Israel Twitter account, saying that Hamas rocket fire into Israel was legitimate, as "exiling a people from their own land justifies anything. It's the Holocaust all over again except this time it's innocent Palestinians and ironically the perpetrators are you Zionist scum.”

According to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, "drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis" is an example of contemporary antisemitism.

She also told the same Twitter user in a later tweet: “You will always remain an illegal state. Death to you Zionist scum.”

The Anne Frank Trust UK had announced on social media on Saturday that Begum had been invited to lead a "Creative storytelling workshop” for young people on their Youth Empowerment Program.

In the since-deleted tweet, the trust wrote: "We are excited to welcome performance poet, producer and creative practitioner, Nasima Begum, to our special workshop this evening.”

However, after Begum's tweets resurfaced and a massive backlash ensued, the trust announced an internal investigation into how she became to be employed by them.

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust also came under fire on social media from activists against antisemitism after the charity’s account posted tweets defending the Anne Frank Trust’s CEO, who is Quaker, triggering a major backlash.

The contentious tweets have now been deleted, but the charity clarified its position in a statement on Monday morning: “We condemn the appointment of Nasima Begum as a workshop practitioner for the The Anne Frank Trust UK. Her antisemitism is well documented and highly offensive. We are relieved that The Anne Frank Trust UK is investigating in detail how this mistake was made.

“At the same time, we condemn the targeting of Tim Robertson, their CEO on the basis of his religion. Such attacks are racist and unacceptable.

“Tim has worked with The Anne Frank Trust UK for many years ensuring it empowers young people to combat racism including, specifically, antisemitism.”

Anne Frank was a Dutch Jewish girl murdered during the Holocaust. Her diary survived the war, and was published to show the world what life was like under the Nazis.

Nasima Begum has been approached for comment.

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