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Llandudno Holocaust Memorial Day ‘hijack’
On 3 March, Llandudno town council condemned the ‘inappropriate Zionist exploitation of Conwy HMD 2017’ and voted to cancel the grant it had allotted to one Roy Thurley for organising the event.
Every 27 January, the date that the Russian army liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in 1945, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust asks people to ‘pause to remember the millions of people who have been murdered or whose lives have been changed beyond recognition during the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.’
On 29 January, the Llandudno HMD commemoration at the Emmanuel Christian Centre featured Auschwitz survivor Arek Hersh. It was also addressed by Darren Millar, not in the programme. Millar, Conservative assembly member (AM) for Clwyd West, organised the Senedd launch last December of ‘Wales Friends of Israel’ (WFoI), a group rooted in ‘Christian Friends of Israel’ – which actively supports the Israeli military.
WFoI seeks to ‘allow the voices of Israel’s supporters to be heard where they are needed most’. Its supporters are directed to ‘beat the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s anti-Israel statements with material that is both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian’.
The Llandudno HMD event was organised by Roy Thurley, a past UK director and current North Wales representative of Christian Friends of Israel.
Thurley is the author of Chosen Race, Chosen Place: A Biblical Perspective on Israel’s Right to the Land, which opposes a two-state solution on the basis of Christian scripture, and argues for Jewish occupation of all of former Palestine including the West Bank.
Participants in Llandudno expressed concern over what they felt was a ‘Zionist hijacking’ of an event – supported by Llandudno town council – that dishonoured the spirit of the HMD.
Llandudno resident Christopher Draper said: ‘I was shocked and my wife, who lost members of her own family in the holocaust, was much distressed’. He added: ‘the event was thoroughly nationalistic with audience members directed to “stand to sing” the national anthems of both the state of Israel and of Wales’. The event programme concealed the fact that Hatikvah is Israel’s national anthem.
The 2018 event will be organised by Churches Together in Wales.