An anti-racism charity named after Anne Frank has appointed Holocaust survivors to oversee its programmes after it sparked outrage by inviting a speaker who had compared Jews to the Nazis.
A JC investigation last July revealed a list of controversial guests invited by the Anne Frank Trust UK to speak to schoolchildren about the dangers of prejudice.
The educational charity admitted a “vetting failure” after poet Nasima Begum, who accused Israel of committing “genocide” against Palestinians, was scheduled to address a workshop last year.
She had also used social media to justify Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli cities, writing to a pro-Israel activist “death to you Zionist scum”.
Now the organisation says it will give Holocaust survivors a key role and is recruiting “Jewish advisers” for its board committees.
The speaker, who had been invited to a storytelling workshop for young people run by the charity, had also used social media to justify Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli cities, writing to a pro-Israel activist “death to you Zionist scum”.
Now the organisation, which bears the name of the Dutch teenage diarist who was murdered by the Nazis, says it will give Holocaust survivors a key role overseeing its future work.
Speaking after the charity’s annual Holocaust Memorial Day lunch Tim Robertson, the charity’s Chief Executive, said a review of its education programmes would “be overseen by Holocaust survivors and key community organisations”.
He added: “The Anne Frank Trust is proudly both Jewish and for everyone. We are proud, of our achievements but also of learning when we get things wrong.
“We were founded 31 years ago by members of the Jewish community, we have always had Jewish trustees and staff, and the Jewish experience of Anne Frank, with its unique context in the Holocaust, is the fundamental point of reference throughout our education programmes. We have outstandingly strong evidence of our impact on antisemitism.”
From left to right: Anne Frank Trust UK Chair Daniel Mendoza, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews Marie van der Zyl, comedian and author David Baddiel, BBC News journalist Jo Coburn and Anne Frank Trust UK CEO Tim Robertson photographed at the Anne Frank Trust UK's annual Holocaust Memorial Day lunch (Anne Frank Trust UK)
“Listening to the concerns last summer, we realised not only had we had a lapse in due diligence but that Jewish experience needed to be even more vividly at the heart of our culture as an organisation," he went on.
“Our response includes new vetting procedures and we are currently recruiting new Jewish advisors for our board committees.”
Mr Robertson, who is a Quaker, spoke following the event, which included a candle-lighting ceremony in memory of the six million Jews murdered in Holocaust, at a hotel in London’s Park Lane.
The event’s host, BBC Politics Live presenter Jo Coburn, interviewed comedian David Baddiel about antisemitism following his book and Channel 4 documentary Jews Don’t Count.
Mr Baddiel said he had been pleased that his recent work on the issue had sparked discussion between Jews and non-Jews alike.
"People who had never really thought about antisemitism talk to me about it and one man who described himself as a progressive said that after reading my book he now feels that antisemitism is the racism that slips past you.”
Comedian David Baddiel was interviewed by BBC News journalist Jo Coburn during the charity's annual Holocaust Memorial Day lunch (Anne Frank Trust UK)
The Mary Whitehouse Experience star argued that social media “fuels” rising hate crimes and expressed concern over “ghettoisation, for want of a better word; although it kind of is the right word as it can feel that just Jews share this information amongst themselves.”
“At heart, Jews not counting is about a modern key concept in progressive thought: allyship.
"It's about why there are - as there should be - many people who are not black but consider themselves black allies, not LGBTQ but consider themselves LGBTQ allies, and so on, but not so many non-Jews who would call themselves Jewish allies.
“History would suggest that an error is being made here, an error that needs to be put right. There's no better place for me to talk about this than at the Anne Frank Trust Annual Lunch," he continued.
The event also featured a poetry performance by Anne Frank Young Ambassadors from Summerswood Primary School, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, Starbank Primary School, Birmingham, and Bill Quay Primary School, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.
Primary school children perform poetry at the Anne Frank Trust UK's annual Holocaust Memorial Day lunch (Anne Frank Trust UK)
Guests included Bergen-Belsen survivor Mala Tribich, Chigwell, Essex-based Rabbi Rafi Goodwin, and Uyghur human rights activist Rahima Mahmut.
Other attendees included former Downing Street press secretary Alastair Campbell, LBC broadcaster James O’Brien, and former Cabinet Minister Lord Pickles, the Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues.