Israel's Holocaust Memorial Would Welcome Visit by Prince Harry

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:15 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Yad V'Shem, Israel's Holocaust memorial, said on Thursday that it would welcome a visit by Prince Harry - although it had no plans to issue a special invitation.

The 20-year-old Prince Harry shocked and angered his fellow Britons and others around the world when he showed up at a costume party dressed like a Nazi soldier. The photograph made newspaper headlines on Thursday.

Prince Harry, third in line for the British throne, later issued a statement apologizing for his "poor choice of costume."

Dr. Robert Rozett, director of the library at Yad V'Shem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem, said that Prince Harry's costume choice "represents a lack of sensitivity and trivialization of the events of the Holocaust."

Rozett said the fact that Prince Harry is a symbol for Britain makes it all the more important that "sends out a positive message."

"Part of the problem now, 60 years after World War II...[is that] the Holocaust is often discussed superficially [and] often used [as a description] for all kinds of things," Rozett said. The younger generation must be taught how it relates to them and why it is still relevant in their lives, he added.

Rozett said he did not know of any plans to invite Prince Harry to visit Yad V'Shem but they would "certainly be pleased if he came."

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Harry's costume choice went beyond "bad taste" because it could "encourage others to think that perhaps that period was not as bad as we teach the younger generation and the free world."

Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, called it a "shameful act" that displayed insensitivity, "not just for those soldiers of his own country who gave their lives to defeat Nazism, but to the victims of the Holocaust who were the principle victims of the Nazis."

Hier urged Prince Harry to accompany a British delegation to visit the Auschwitz death camp for the commemoration of the 60th year since it was liberated.

Six million Jews were killed in the Nazi Holocaust as well as millions of other Europeans, gypsies, Russian soldiers and homosexuals.

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