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Son of Holocaust survivor named to state antisemitism advisory commission

Gov. Greg Abbott recently appointed RIDA Development Corporation CEO Ira Mitzner to serve on the Texas Holocaust, Genocide and Antisemitism Advisory Commission.

HOUSTON — Monday marks the beginning of Holocaust Remembrance Week in Texas public schools.

Earlier this month, a Houston man was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott to serve on the commission working to teach the next generation about the Holocaust and fight antisemitism.

Inside the Marriott Marquis hotel in downtown Houston that his company built, RIDA Development Corporation CEO Ira Mitzner recently got a call from the governor’s office inviting him to serve in a new, additional role as a member of the Texas Holocaust, Genocide and Antisemitism Advisory Commission.

“I feel very honored,” Mitzner said during an interview with KHOU 11 News after his appointment. “The work of this commission is so important.”

Its goal is educating Texans to fight hatred and prevent atrocities like what the Mitzner family experienced firsthand.

Ira’s father, David, narrowly escaped Nazi capture in Warsaw in the 1940s before being imprisoned for eight years in a Soviet labor camp. When he returned to Poland after the war, he had lost his parents and sister to the Holocaust.

David Mitzner later came to America and eventually founded RIDA Development Corporation.

“He was giving back to the country that gave to him,” Ira Mitzner said.

David Mitzner passed away in 2016. He was 101.

“My father used to speak to public school students, middle school and high school students about his experiences in the war,” Ira Mitzner said. “You could see they understood.”

Education is key to several recommendations in a study the commission submitted to state lawmakers in December 2022.

It found that reported incidents against the Jewish community in Texas more than doubled between 2020 and 2021.

Recently, KHOU 11 News has reported on antisemitic flyers thrown into yards and driveways across the Houston area, a fire intentionally set at a synagogue in Austin and a hostage situation at a Dallas-area synagogue that the FBI labeled a hate crime.

“Especially today, with social media, we must do everything in our power to educate the public as to what discrimination, and specifically, antisemitism left unchecked, can do to a society and do to a people,” Ira Mitzner said.

It’s a mission started by one generation and carried on by the next.

The Texas Holocaust, Genocide and Antisemitism Advisory Commission is required by state law to submit a study on antisemitism ahead of the start of the next legislative session every two years to the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the house and all state lawmakers.

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