The worst abuse of the memory of the Holocaust, and davka “in honour” of Holocaust Memorial Day happened just this week when British Liberal-Democrat MP David Ward when he not only equated Israel’s actions to the Nazis’, but he asserted that the Jews ought to have learned their lesson from the Holocaust.
As reported in the Commentator:
British Member of Parliament David Ward has issued a statement to the ‘Asian Image’ magazine, juxtaposing the Middle East Conflict with the Holocaust.
As Holocaust Memorial Day is to be observed on Sunday, the Liberal Democrat MP, upon signing the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, stated:
“Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”
Ward’s statements come at a particularly sensitive time, and many will argue that the comments indeed are in breach of the European Union Monitoring Centre’s definition on anti-Semitism, of which it is stated that, “Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust)” is a particular example of anti-Semitism.
It would appear that rule #1 for an anti-Semite when caught out is: When in a hole, keep digging. Watch his car-crash of an interview on Sky News and cringe at his words. The blog Order-Order has a transcript of Ward’s words too (Caveat: some of the comments on the link above are as bad as Ward’s statement). It is morbidly fascinating yet horrifying to see how Ward not only could not see anything wrong with what he had said, but compounded his transgression:
”I’m accusing the Jews who did it, [nervous laugh] so if you’re a Jew and you did not do it I’m not accusing you. I’m saying that those Jews who did that and continue to do it have not learned those lessons. If you are a Jew and you do not do those things and have never done those things then I am not criticising you.”
He goes on to say that he can think of no better day than Holocaust Memorial Day to raise these issues.
Melanie Phillips hits the nail on the head when she pinpoints the precise evilness of Ward’s statement:
For the really terrible thing here is not the grotesque misuse of the Holocaust, nor the vicious suggestion that ‘the Jews’ are guilty of behaviour that is somehow analogous to the Nazi genocide inflicted upon them, nor even the sickening insult that they have to ‘learn the lessons’ of their own suffering.
No, the true venom of these remarks is the way they reverse the position of today’s Jewish victims – the Israeli survivors of the Holocaust and their children and grandchildren — and their current would-be exterminators – the descendants of Hitler’s Nazi collaborators in Palestine during the Holocaust.
The really appalling thing about Ward’s remarks is his hijacking of the Holocaust to reverse the position of Arab aggressors and their Jewish victims. But he also goes further than accusing Israel of such crimes in the West Bank and Gaza. He accuses it of
‘inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel.’
He thus appears to be accusing Israel of committing atrocities against its own Arab citizens. But this is just plain hallucinatory. There is nothing that could possibly be considered to be such. Arab Israelis have full civil rights in Israel;
The belief that, in Israel, the victims of one of the greatest crimes against humanity are themselves now guilty of crimes against humanity is the collective libel that has become the default position amongst the British intelligentsia. And as Ward suggested in his remarks on Sky, only those Jews who themselves endorse this libel by denouncing Israel are to be considered free of this taint. British Jews who support Israel and try to counter these Big Lies are quite simply treated as pariahs by baying mobs whose obsession with Israel has brought about nothing less than a mass derangement in British public debate.
The full, monstrous obscenity of both Ward’s remarks and the widespread British attitude to which he has given voice is no less than this: accusing the people who were the victims of genocide entirely falsely of committing crimes against humanity — simply because they are trying to defend themselves from being wiped out again by those for whom the Holocaust is unfinished business. Self-defence against extermination is now considered a crime against humanity.
Chas Newkey-Burden who blogs at the wonderful Oy Va Goy blog, slams Ward for playing the “You of All People” card:
Ward is not the first to abuse the Holocaust in order to slander Israel and the Jewish people. It is, unfortunately, a popular technique, as I wrote in the Jewish Chronicle in July:
It is the “they-of-all-people” argument: the suggestion that the Jews, having faced extraordinary persecution, should know better than anyone not to be oppressors.
Put aside for a moment that the “oppression” which proponents of this argument are accusing Israel of committing is usually imaginary. When directed by gentiles towards Jews, the “they-of-all-people” argument is in its very essence so fundamentally ill-judged and unjust, and voiced with such a breathtaking lack of self-awareness, that my spirit flags when I hear it.
Let us strip the “they-of-all-people” argument down to its very basics: gentiles telling Jews that we killed six million of your people and that as a result it is you, not us, who have lessons to learn; that it is you, not us, who need to clean up your act. It is an argument of atrocious, spiteful insanity.
I highly recommend you read the Chas’s JC article (or the same item on his blog) for an answer for all those anti-Semites who would use the Holocaust to bash Israel.
Marc Goldberg at the Times of Israel also addresses Ward’s revolting statement and ties it in to antisemitism in the UK in general:
What’s really upsetting here is the way in which a Member of Parliament is so happy and comfortable making comments slamming the Jews. He clearly doesn’t see his own comments as anti-Semitic nor does he regard them as an unfortunate gaffe, as far as he is concerned his comments reflect an accurate world view and it appears he is not alone.
And herein lies the root of the problem of anti-Semitism in the UK. I was born and grew up in London. I am not visibly Jewish, save perhaps from when I walked to shul on Shabbat and I never encountered a single instance of anti-Semitism. […]
But when it comes to the Jews that’s only half of the story, […] Essentially the feeling that pervades seems to be that when it comes to the Middle East Jews who don’t hang their heads in shame and do their best to enunciate that Israel has nothing to do with them are themselves guilty…of something.
There’s this ugly attitude that for Jews to be offended by any kind of attack on all Jews is unacceptable if Palestinians are mentioned somewhere in the sentence.
Criticising Jews for not learning enough about loving their fellow man whilst being the victims of a death machine the likes of which the world has never seen is beyond the pale. Unlike being a victim of out and out anti Jewish violence this purposeful conflation of Jews with the very worst human scum is something that I have been in contact with often in the UK.
In short it’s not enough for a Jew to stand up and point out an incident of anti-Semitism but now they have to go get down to the nuts and bolts of every statement to which they might feel offended and explain why and then argue the point as if it is a political opinion. Uniquely among ethnic minorities in the UK Jews have to actually argue with people as to their right to feel offended and explain right down to the minutiae just why a person’s comments are offensive.
It’s not often that I agree so completely with Marc Goldberg but I feel he has enunciated my thoughts and my own experiences growing up in England precisely.
Interestingly, an Irish politician has deplored the rising anti-Jewish racism emanating from politicians in a number of EU states:
“It is a moral imperative that we unequivocally repudiate the reprehensible rhetoric of those who seek to contaminate our political discourse and attempt to inflame dangerous prejudice,” said Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter, whose country currently chairs the rotating EU presidency.
“The Shoah did not begin in the death camps. It began with words of hate,” he added. “Those words of hate became weapons of mass murder because good people closed their doors and windows shutters and remained silent.”
We have met the redoubtable Alan Shatter before, also in the field of fighting antisemitism and anti-Israel activity. May he go from strength to strength.
Moving back to the Middle East, I recently blogged about Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s anti-Semitic remarks to the Arabic press:
…the vicious words about Israel and the Jews that he expressed in 2010?
Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi described Zionists as “bloodsuckers” and descendants of apes and pigs, urged “military resistance” against Israel, and called to sever all ties with the Jewish state, in Arabic interviews that were posted on the Internet in 2010.
In the same “when in a hole, dig deeper” fashion as David Ward, when challenged about these statements, Morsi blamed the Jewish controlled media for “distorting his apes and pigs remarks”:
He then launched a diatribe about Israeli policies against the Palestinians, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) told Foreign Policy. “He was attempting to explain himself … then he said, ‘Well, I think we all know that the media in the United States has made a big deal of this and we know the media of the United States is controlled by certain forces and they don’t view me favorably,’” Coons told the magazine’s The Cable blog.
Asked if Morsi specifically named the Jews as the forces that control the American media, Coons replied that all the senators believed the implication was obvious. “He did not say [the Jews], but I watched as the other senators physically recoiled, as did I,” Coons said. “I thought it was impossible to draw any other conclusion.”
And staying in the Middle East but moving over to the Palestinians, we have yet more Nazi analogies, or rather, this time an actual accusation that the early Zionists collaborated with the Nazis. This from the Holocuast-denying Palestinian “President” Mahmoud Abbas himself:
During an interview to be aired Friday on Al Meyadeen, a Lebanon-based broadcast channel, Mahmoud Abbas has claimed that Zionism and Naziism were complicit prior to World War II.
“I challenge anyone to deny the relationship between Zionism and Nazism before World War II,” Abbas says in the interview, which has been teased ahead of time.
Anonymous pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon, who first picked up on the story, took issue with the assertion. “This is, of course, a sickening implication. There were contacts before World War II as Zionists tried to save Jews from Germany; for example, the Ha’avara Agreement. Abbas is however trying to spin it as if Zionists and Nazis were cooperating in genocide, which puts him beneath contempt.”
Yisrael Hayom expands:
The heads of the Zionist movement pushed the Nazis to kill Jews so that they would have leverage to claim the land of Palestine and establish the State of Israel, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said in an interview with Lebanese television, parts of which were published on Monday.
During the interview, Abbas also defended his doctoral dissertation, which he completed in the 1980s at the University of Moscow, in which he claimed, among other things, that the number of Jews murdered by the Nazis is 600,000 at most and not 6 million.
“I want one, even one Jew to come and prove to me that there were no connections between the Zionist leadership and the Nazi movement before World War II,” Abbas said. “I have in my possession material which would fill dozens of books to prove this claim, and in the future, I promise to publish this material.”
How does one combat the nausea and revulsion provoked by these disgusting examples of anti-Jewish bigotry?
One way would be to read this article, 10 years old but still as relevant as ever, by the Italian journalist Fiamma Nirenstein who has recently announced her upcoming aliya (h/t Fresno Zionism): How I became an unconscious fascist:
The basic idea of anti-Semitism, today as always, is that Jews have a perverted soul that makes them unfit, as a morally inferior people, to be regular members of the human family. Today, this Untermensch ideology has shifted to the Jewish state: A separate, unequal, basically evil stranger whose national existence is slowly but surely emptied and deprived of justification. Israel, as the classic evil Jew, according to contemporary anti-Semitism, doesn’t have a birthright, but exists with its “original sin” perpetrated against the Palestinians. Israel’s heroic history has become a history of arrogance.
Nowadays, its narrative focuses much more on Deir Yassin massacre than on the creation and defense of Kibbutz Degania; it focuses more and more the suffering of the Palestinian refugees than on the surprise of seeing five armies in 1948 denying Israel’s right to exist just after being established by the United Nations; much more on the Jewish underground resistance organizations, the Lechi and the Irgun, than on the heroic battle along the way to Jerusalem. The caricature of the evil Jew is transformed to the caricature of the evil state. And now the traditional hook-nosed Jew bears a gun and kills Arab children with pleasure.
Well, people can, and always did, take for granted the prejudices about Jews; everyone is free to think whatever he wants. But we, the Jews, must reserve our moral right to hold such people accountable: in our eyes, they will plainly be anti-Semites. We will have to say to them: when you lie or use prejudices and stereotypes about Israel and the Jews, you are an anti-Semite, and I’ll fight you.
If we want to obtain something, if we decide that it is about time to fight, we must renounce “liberal” imposters. We have to know how to say that the free press is a failure when it lies, and that it does lie. We have to say that all human rights are violated when a people is denied the right of self defense, and that right is denied of Israel. Human rights are also violated when a nation is subjected to systematic defamation and made a legitimate target for terrorists. We have to stop what we have accepted since the day the State was born, namely, that Israel be viewed as a different state in the international community.
Another very important point is that of all the parameters of anti-Semitism now used, one is the confusion between “Israeli” and “Jew”. Supposedly, it is wrong to insinuate that the Jews act in the interests of the state of Israel and not their own state. The more a country confuses the two terms, the more anti-Semitic it is considered, and therefore one would imagine that the Jews combat this prejudice.
This is a serious conceptual error. Since the state of Israel, and along with it Jews, have been made the objects of the worst kind of prejudice, Jews everywhere should consider their being identified with Israel a virtue and honor.
They should assert that identification with pride.
If Israel is, and it is indeed, the focal point of anti-Semitic attacks, our attention must be concentrated there. We must measure the moral character of the person we are speaking to on that basis: if you lie about Israel, if you cover it with bias, you are an anti-Semite. If you’re prejudiced against Israel, then, you’re against the Jews.
The watchword of the Jews should be “Jewish pride,” in the sense of pride in our history and national identity, wherever we are.
The article is a bit longer than the usual newspaper or blog article, but it’s worth the time and you’ll be glad you read it.