MONTREAL (JTA) — A Canadian rabbi who participated in the planning of a Holocaust memorial monument whose plaque omitted any reference to Jews apologized for what he said was inattentiveness.
Rabbi Daniel Friedman of Edmonton made the apology in an interview this week with the Ottawa Citizen about a gaffe that ended with the removal of the plaque of the Canada National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa ahead of its replacement with a plaque that does mention Jews.
At the Sept. 27 opening ceremony of Canada’s first Holocaust memorial, “we suddenly realized an egregious error has been made,” said Friedman, who chaired the advisory council on the monument’s creation.
Bernie Farber, a former official of the defunct Canadian Jewish Congress, and Mira Sucharov, a Carleton University professor in Ottawa, criticized the “misplaced outrage” caused by the mistake.
Initially, Jewish critics and partisan politicians blamed senior Ottawa bureaucrats and even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who spoke at the opening and had previously made a similar gaffe.
But it soon became evident that although the Holocaust monument was an unambiguously “Jewish” site, the error was chiefly the council’s, with part of the blame put on the government’s Heritage Ministry, the governmental arm responsible for the monument.
The controversy erupted soon after the $7.2 million memorial’s opening, even making the pages of the New York Times and Washington
In January, President Donald Trump was heavily criticized for a White House statement on International Holocaust Memorial Day that did not mention Jews, but rather victims of the Nazis.
The Israel Defense Forces on its official website for years commemorated 11 million victims of the Holocaust — a figure disputed by leading Holocaust scholars — even though only six million Jews died in the genocide.