By Mark Gardner
Recent posts on CST Blog have included sections and summaries from CST’s recently released report, Antisemitic Discourse in Britain in 2009. (The full pdf can be accessed here. 58 pages, including graphics.) The next section of the report that was due to be shown here, was that covering Abuse of the Holocaust. (These report pages 20-27 can be accessed here.)
By ugly coincidence, however, the Morning Star newspaper has recently featured an exchange of letters that epitomises some of the most challenging and upsetting aspects of Abuse of the Holocaust. The exchange led to the Morning Star’s 18 November edition publishing a letter under the disgusting headline
Israel is happy to exterminate Palestinians
The letter-writer, George Abendstern, insists that he was correct to have previously depicted Israel perpetrating “a final solution”. The evolution – or rather, degeneration – of this exchange of letters is a startling example, in miniature, of historical and moral inversions that all too often pollute anti-Zionist discourse.
The fact that the letter writer, George Abendstern, is a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany (and a long standing anti-Zionist activist) merely adds to the suitability of this letters exchange as a point of wider comparison. Afer all, Jews (including Holocaust survivors and Israelis) have consistently played a leading role as theorists and activists in the demonisation of Zionism and Zionists: including Abuse of the Holocaust.
The fact that the headlines given to the letters are chosen by the Morning Star, serves to illustrate how Jewish concerns over Zionism and Israel are then understood and utilised by those around them.
(Note – dates given below are all as they appear in the Morning Star’s on-line edition.)
This little examplar began on 21 October when Professor Theodore Macdonald wrote
…Even before the abominable atrocities of the nazis, it was increasingly obvious that the Jews needed their own state in order to evade persecution. That truth was cynically used by British imperialism.
…Though the Balfour Declaration was unjust, we cannot keep revisiting historical errors. The Israelis need a recognised state. So do the Palestinians. An independent Palestine is an essential precondition for world peace.
(As an aside, it should be noted that despite the above content, the Morning Star called this letter “Jewish state not valid“.)
Abendstern’s response on 4 November, included this
Theodore Macdonald writes (M Star October 22) that “it was increasingly obvious the Jews needed a state of their own.”
Why? The Jews are not a nation – as the Israeli writer Schlomo Sand said in his book The Invention Of The Jewish People.
They are an amalgam of people professing the Jewish faith.
…[Zionist Jews]…are going to Palestine not for economic reasons but because their extremist and racist views drive them to call the land of Palestine their own.
These people – many from Russia and the US – have no regard for the indigenous people of Palestine and may yet turn to the “final solution.” This the world has to prevent.
So, here we have the denial of Jewish nationhood (however you define that term), legitimised by an Israeli Jewish writer; the ommission of the Holocaust and all other antisemitism as a previous or current motive for Jews to emigrate to Israel; and a very deliberate warning that this “may yet turn to the final solution” – all by a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany.
Phil Katz, author of Freedom From Tyranny – Against Fascism And The Falsification Of History wrote to voice his concerns. His letter of 8 November was accurately titled
‘Final solution’ is not a term for casual use’
…George Abendstern (M Star November 5) plumbs new depths with his reference to an Israeli “final solution.”
…In [my book] I show what a “final solution” really is, while Mr Abendstern uses the term without a shred of evidence.
…the Prague Declaration Movement…uses historical revisionism, anti-communism and Holocaust denial and specialises in using terms such as “genocide” and “final solution” in a way which deliberately obscures their meaning….to erase the outcomes of Nuremberg by saying that the Soviet Union conducted “final solutions” in the Ukraine and Poland.
…The aim is to gut such specific terms of all meaning so that the real culprits go free and in order to confuse the young and those who want to oppose capitalism.
…We import its terminology and tactics of obfuscation into our pantheon of things to throw against Israel – and presumably other reactionaries – at our peril.
George Abendstern’s partner, Linda Clair, (also Jewish and a long standing anti-Zionist activist) responded in the next day’s paper. This time, the Morning Star didn’t beat about the bush with airy-fairy phrases such as “Final Solution”. Instead, (despite Clair not actually using the term) it saw fit to cut to the heart of the matter and abuse the Holocaust, titling Clair’s letter as
Israeli road could lead to a holocaust
To be semantic, Israel’s road would not lead to The Holocaust – that real Holocaust, after all, is already taken - no, Israel’s road “could” (not would) lead to “a holocaust”.Clair’s letter was along similar lines, but of course without the gut wrench of the holocaust sucker punch. Clair cited two Israelis, Ilan Pappe and Gideon Levy, and then got down to “final solution” business, premised upon her partner’s Jewish refugee identity
…The Israelis have massacred many thousands of Palestinians since 1947 and continue to do so.
If knowingly bombing populated areas with white phosphorus does not stem from the same mentality as the gas chambers did I would like to know the difference.
Methods of mass killing have moved on since 1945. The effect is the same.
…Mr Abendstern (M Star November 5) was born in Germany in 1930 and is not unfamiliar with the term “final solution.”
His commitment to justice for the Palestinians and his understanding of zionism mean he knows only too well where the Israeli road could lead if the world stands silently by.
Then, on 18 November, two more letters. One, from Roger Fletcher, accused Phil Katz of
pedantry and sectarianism against a valued Palestine activist
…It is patently obvious and is in fact documented that zionism aims to exterminate the Palestinian people.
Note, Fletcher states “exterminate”. This is no longer about colonialism or imperialism, dispossession and replacement. It has degenerated to being about extermination. It is not that Israel’s actions “could lead to a holocaust”: it is, rather, that “Zionism aims to exterminate the Palestinian people”. (Indeed, this is allegedly“patently obvious” and “in fact documented”.)
George Abendstern now also uses the “H” word: but in a manner that suggests he understands its importance, had deliberately refrained from previously doing so, but has now been provoked beyond all patience
Phil Katz (M Star November 10) writes about all things except the matter in hand – the brutal and genocidal colonisation of Palestine.
…I would urge Mr Katz to turn to his history books.
Long before the nazis coined the phrase “final solution” the zionists at their 1897 Basel conference made no secret of what they had in mind for the Palestinians.
Had they had the means they would by their own admission have finished them off in 1948.
What the zionists are presently undertaking is slow strangulation.
…Finally Mr Katz obviously has a problem with the term “final solution.”
Fine by me – shall we call it a “holocaust” instead?
Abendstern’s letter is bad enough in its own right, but the Morning Star sees fit to degrade the exchange even further, because this is what it chose to entitle as
Israel is happy to exterminate Palestinians
Of course, Abendstern’s letter says nothing about smiling Israeli conscripts happily herding Palestinians into gas chambers. If, however, the Morning Star is unable to empathise with Jewish perspectives on Holocaust abuse, they could consider the catastrophic destruction wrought by the Nazis’ hatred of communism and socialism, including the fact that the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau were initially tested upon 600 Soviet prisoners-of war and 250 sick Poles.
(The originally intended blog post, a summary of the Abuse of the Holocaust section from CST’s Discourse Report will follow in coming days.)