Israel Donates Anne Frank Books to Japan After Vandalism

Embassy and local Jewish community replace 300 damaged library books.

The Israeli Embassy has donated 300 Anne Frank-related books to Tokyo public libraries after hundreds of copies were recently found vandalized.

More than 300 books related to Anne Frank, including copies of "The Diary of a Young Girl," have been found damaged in Tokyo libraries, according to the latest tally. Suginami was particularly hard hit, with 121 books vandalized. The donated books will be divided among Tokyo libraries.

The mayor of Suginami expressed hope that the incident could be turned into a lesson for Japanese who are not aware of the Holocaust.

"Through this incident, I believe that people also learned about the horrid facts of history and of racism, and with this knowledge, I hope that our people were given an opportunity to reflect on the preciousness of peace," Mayor Ryo Tanaka said.

Peleg Lewi, deputy chief of mission at the Israeli Embassy, said he believes the vandalism was a single act that does not represent the feelings of the Japanese.

"The diary of Anne Frank represents to us a message of tolerance between people," he said. "We fully trust the Japanese authorities to bring those responsible for these cowardly acts to justice."

Police established a task force this week to investigate the case.

Meanwhile, Philip Rosenfeld, president of the Jewish Community of Japan, said the incident “should not be taken as an indictment of Japan and Japanese society,” the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The Journal also reported that an anonymous donor going by the name of “Chiune Sugihara,” a diplomat known at the "Japanese Schindler" who helped thousands of Jews escape the Nazis, separately sent two boxes of books to the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Library Monday.

The library received 137 copies of Anne Frank’s diary and other books about her.

“We believe this to be a goodwill gesture in response to the recent incidents,” the library official said.

The discovery last week of the vandalized books prompted the U.S.-based Jewish human rights group Simon Wiesenthal Center to call for an investigation.

"The geographic scope of these incidents strongly suggest an organized effort to denigrate the memory of the most famous of the 1.5 million Jewish children murdered by the Nazis in the World War II Holocaust," said the center's associate dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper.

"I know from my many visits to Japan how much Anne Frank is studied and revered by millions of Japanese," Cooper added.

Frank wrote her diary during the two years her family hid from the Nazis during World War II. She died in a concentration camp in 1945. Her father survived and published the diary, which has become the most widely read document to emerge from the Holocaust.

AP
AP