Over on Beastrabban\’s weblog, my brother – the historian Dr David Sivier – has been doing a little research into the vilification of Holocaust survivor Hajo Meyer.
You will recall that this gentleman (now deceased) was vilified as a Holocaust denier (although not in so many words) by the mass media after some malcontents in the ‘Anybody But Corbyn’ camp tried to use him to attack the Labour leader.
Mr Corbyn had introduced Hajo Meyer at a Holocaust Memorial Day event, but had then been called away, so he did not even hear the Jewish survivor of the Auschwitz extermination camp denounce the Israeli government for behaving like the Nazis.
It was enough for his accusers, though. They like to make false and frivolous accusations of this kind in public.
And the only way they’ll be stopped is with legal action. That’s why I am crowdfunding for a libel action against my own accusers. Please visit my JustGiving page and donate, if you can.
The Beast has discovered cases in which other Holocaust survivors have spoken out, and raises strong issues:
Clearly, the Israel lobby has no problem with Holocaust survivors when they speak out against the persecution of the Jews, or other ethnic groups. Indeed, one of the criticisms of Israel is that it also exploits the Holocaust and its memory to promote itself as the Jewish state.
Holocaust survivors like Hajo Meyer explicitly challenge that identification and the assumptions of moral superiority Israel drawn through it, by discussing and attacking Israel’s own brutal persecution of the Palestinians and its seven decades’ old policy of ethnic cleansing. Their criticisms are particularly sharp and powerful because of their unique position of survivors and victims of Nazi persecution. A position, that surely qualifies them more than most to make the comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany.
Tony Greenstein has pointed out in his blog that Jewish critics of Israel, including Israelis, have regularly made the comparison between their countries, and even individual politicians, and the Nazis. He posted up a piece commenting and reproducing the text of an open letter a very well qualified and respected Israeli academic and researcher on the Holocaust, Dr. Daniel Blatman, ‘J’Accuse’, attacking Netanyahu and his ministers and bigoted supporters, explicitly comparing them to the Nazis and imperial Japanese during the Second World War.
Another Holocaust survivor, who embarrassed the Israelis by comparing them to the Nazis was the resistance hero Marek Edelman. Edelman had been a member of the Jewish Bund, whose motto was ‘Wherever we live, that’s our homeland’. He was also one of the leaders of the uprising against the Nazis in the Warsaw ghetto. He declared that the Palestinians and their resistance to Israel persecution now had the spirit of the great heroes of the Warsaw uprising.
Four years ago during the Israeli attack on Gaza, the American alternative news site, The Young Turks, did a segment demanding the Israelis end their bombardment and harassment of the Palestinians. In the piece, which can be viewed on YouTube, they quoted another Holocaust survivor, a Jewish Canadian called Gabor Mate. And Mate, who supported Israel as a grand ideal, lamented what the country had become in its brutality towards the Palestinians.
Mate said: “In Israel-Palestine the powerful party has succeeded in painting itself as the victim, while the ones being killed and maimed are the perpetrators.
Holocaust survivors need to be respected and listened to when they denounce racism, persecution and genocide. And this includes criticism of or denunciations of Israel. It does not make them anti-Semites, and abusing them as such debases British society and disgraces those who make such vile accusations.
Hear, hear. It will be interesting to see how those who use the Holocaust to justify their behaviour try to square that with their treatment of Holocaust survivors.
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