‘No intent’ to disrespect victims

The Jasenovac memorial at a concentration camp in Croatia where Valley Eyewear filmed part of its advertising campaign.

THE director of a eyewear company that filmed a promotional video at a concentration camp has told The AJN that it was never his intent to cause offence.

Valley Eyewear came under fire last week after sharing images and a video shot in front of a memorial at the Jasenovac concentration camp in Croatia, where more than 70,000 were killed during the Holocaust.

It was one of six sites of historical and architectural significance used in the campaign for the company’s “Black Zero” brand of eyewear..

Following the backlash and after the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) made contact with Valley Eyewear director Michael Crawley, the offending images and video were immediately taken down.

ECAJ executive director Peter Wertheim told The AJN that after corresponding with Crawley, he considered the matter closed.

“I think most people would instinctively understand that it is wrong to exploit an image of a memorial to victims of the Holocaust for commercial gain, because it trivialises and belittles the enormity of the genocide and suffering perpetrated by the Nazi regime and its allies, and disrespects the memory of millions of innocent people who were cruelly persecuted and killed,” he said.

Crawley, who has been to Israel, told The AJN that “never in a million years was our intent to ever disrespect anyone in the process of us creating these films”.

Thanking Wertheim for bringing the matter to his attention, he added, “We are a very respectful multicultural company that prides ourself on respect and honour, I myself have a close connection with the Jewish community and a large part of my friends are Jewish, so to think what we had done had offended people, I was horrified as this was never our intent.

“If anything we hoped it would bring awareness of the locations in a positive manner paying respect to the location and its past.”

Anti-Defamation Commission chairman Dvir Abramovich said that while he welcomed Crawley’s apology, “we urge him to explain how he came to believe that shooting the commercial at this concentration camp was appropriate, and hope that he understands that there can never be any justification for using the suffering and deaths of so many to sell products or services.”

GARETH NARUNSKY