From Liberal Democrats to Star of David pigs

This is a cross post from Mark Gardner at the CST.

On 18th July, the Liberal Democrats withdrew the whip from David Ward MP, saying his language in a tweet about Zionists and Israel was insufficiently “proportionate and precise”. Ward’s tweet:

 

Am I wrong or are am I right? At long last the #Zionists are losing the battle – how long can the #apartheid State of #Israel last?

 

The response of Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, and chief whip Alistair Carmichael:

 

We were in unanimous agreement that questioning the continued existence of the state of Israel fails the test of language that is ‘proportionate and precise’.

 

CST commended the “proportionate and precise” language demand, but a strong editorial in the Times was also surely correct when it stated that Ward “doesn’t need to change his words, he needs to change his mind”.

 

Ward’s tweet was the last straw that finally broke the Lib Dem camel’s back. It had beenschlepping bales of Ward straw since January, ever since he signed a Holocaust memorial book in the House of Commons and 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.

 

Ten days before Ward’s overdue (and overly brief) suspension, another Lib Dem MP, Sir Bob Russell, was in the Commons abusing Holocaust memory on behalf of Palestinians. He is for Holocaust education, but thinks Palestinians deserve equal mention. He asked:

 

The Secretary of State referred to more coverage of world history. On the assumption that the 20th century will include the Holocaust, will he give me an assurance that the life of Palestinians since 1948 will be given equal attention?

 

Karen Pollock MBE, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, probably knows more about Holocaust memory, education, and political attacks upon it, than any other person in Britain today. She commented on Russell’s intellectual and moral idiocy:

 

To try to equate the events of the Holocaust, the systemised mass murder of six million Jews, with the conflict in the Middle East is simply inaccurate.

 

This studied understatement was too much for Sally FitzHarris, the Secretary of Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine. Back in January, FitzHarris said that Ward had “spoken for the vast majority of Liberal Democrats“. Now, she jumped to Russell’s defence, writing to the Jewish Chronicle (July 19):

 

Ms Karen Pollock…describes the Holocaust as “the systemised mass murder of six million Jews. (News, July 12)But at least five million non-Jews were killed. Or do gypsies, homosexuals, priests, communists, Slavs, black people, mentally and physically disabled et al not count?

 

To actually send such a letter to the Jewish Chronicle is a gross insult to Jews and their memory of the Holocaust. This, before any discussion of its potential libel of Karen Pollock MBE, with its implied accusation that she, of all people, denies or obscures Nazi crimes against non-Jews.

 

The historical and moral (and political) question as to whether Nazi crimes against non-Jews even constitute “the Holocaust” is yet another matter: but that is hardly likely to have motivated Sally FitzHarris’ two-fingered insult to Ms Pollock and the JC’s readers. By her own logic, if non-Jews “count”, then why is the anti-Israel mob only so obsessed with what lessons and actions Jews derive from the Holocaust? Or, as Chas Newkey-Burden has written:

 

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.

 

Do not for one second think that “proportionate and precise” language is somehow exclusively a Liberal Democrat problem. It is immeasurably wider and more important than that.

 

Anti-Israel politics could be precisely that: anti-Israel, opposed to the policies of a state. They do not need to spit on Jewish sensibilities and they do not need to echo antisemitism, from blood libels to conspiracy charges and all points in between: but all too often they do.

 

The old ”Jew” is replaced by the new “Zionist“, fuelling and reflecting antisemitic attitudes across the board. As with last decade’s “neo Con” fad, it is now taken as axiomatic in many circles that Zionists are intrinsic to global power dynamics, the secret state, call it what you will.

 

Furthermore, in one breath, Israel is compared to both Nazi Germany and South Africa: as if Zionism, Nazi genocide and apartheid racism have equal meaning to each other, and to Jews. And in this way of thinking, as per Ward, Russell and now FitzHarris, the Holocaust is a weapon for attacking Israel, with Jews and Jewish sensibilities trashed as collateral damage.

 

It is right to demand that Liberal Democrats get their house in order, but they are only a very small and visible part of a far deeper and still evolving problem. An extreme variation of such dynamics can be seen in footage from a very recent gig by former Pink Floyd star, Roger Waters.

 

When Waters announced his “boycott Israel” position in the Guardian (where else?), he strongly stressed that Israeli (to say nothing of Jewish) opinion is highly diverse. And, anybody remotely familar with his The Wall knows he is no Jew-hater. Nevertheless, the flying pig in his new show now has a Star of David on it: along with totalitarian symbols.

 

Here, thousands of fans cheer the pig. A huge video shows Waters in pseudo-Nazi costume, machine gunning the audience with a copy of the same gun that many German soldiers would have used in mass shootings of approximately 1.5 million East European Jews (prior to the gas chamber programme).

 

The Star of David pig, the Nazi imagery and the machine gunning are statements againstNazism and oppression. Waters, and much of the audience, seem to derive greategotistical appeal in the anti-Nazi, anti-racist posturing. Jews will be somewhat less comfortable at such trends.

 

 

 

 

5 Responses to “From Liberal Democrats to Star of David pigs”

  1. Mark Says:

    Speechless watching Roger Waters. I grew up on Pink Floyd. Damn, another one bites the dust…

  2. Jacob Arnon Says:

    “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.”

    Notice that the writer doesn’t tell you which atrocities he is referring to which he thinks compare to atrocities perpetrated in the Shoah? There are also no figures of Palestinian nor Israeli casualties. This is because if he started giving you figures people will notice that his claims can’t be backed up by factual evidence.

    There are atrocities being perpetrated in the Middle East by the Syrian government by Hezbollah in Syria, by the many other Arab governments like the one in Algeria or the former government in Iraq, etc. As deadly as these atrocities are (hundreds of thousands of people murdered in Algeria, Iraq, and now Syria) yet even these don’t compare to the Nazi murder machine.

    The one country in which such atrocities didn’t and don’t happen is Israel.(There were some atrocities during wartime. These were exposed by Israelis and written about and severely criticized in this small country.)

    The Palestinian Arab population since 1947 has increased many folds and the Arabs in Israel have one of the highest standards of living in the Mid-East.
    Compare the health and welfare of Israeli Arabs to the average citizen’s health in Egypt, Syria, or Iraq, etc. Israel should be commended for what it has achieved (without the resource of oil and under threat of annihilation) and not excoriated.

    The wrongness of such comparisons should be evident to anyone who knows the history of this region and European history.

  3. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    I don’t have to be as polite as Mark Gardner. When Sally Fitzharris writes rubbish such as “But at least five million non-Jews were killed. Or do gypsies, homosexuals, priests, communists, Slavs, black people, mentally and physically disabled et al not count?” aimed at Karen Pollock (and the rest of us, of course), she forfeits all rights to be treated with civility. However, attempts should be made to treat the afflicted with gentleness and kindliness. Even if these attempts fail.

    Fitzharris deliberately ignores the point that all the other groups (with the possible exception of the Roma) were not slated for total destruction, only the Jews. It hardly needs a genius to start wondering what lesson Jews should draw from that.

    Further, should Mark Gardner be correct in suggesting that Karen Pollock has been libelled, it will be almost entertaining watching Fitzharris desperately trying to avoid a court case (after her solicitor tells her she doesn’t have a snowflake’s chance in hell), and being told to make a significant donation to an Israeli/Arab cause.

    And Fitzharris probably regards herself as highly educated. Yet another example of high levels of formal qualification not equating to common sense.

    Then we come to David Ward. He has no more excuse than Fitzharris. He comes up with this “they of all people…” fig-leaf for his prejudices, yet, for someone who is supposedly a “liberal”, manages to ignore a massive raft of evidence. Thus, if Israelis are so evil, how come the population of Gaza has increased (along with the general standard of living of the Gazans) between 1967 and the Israeli unilateral evacuation of it? Unlike, of course, the situation in the Warsaw Ghetto during its existence. How come there are no mass graves in the West Bank, unlike those strewn all across eastern Europe, and not just in the Death and Concentration Camps (in places like Babi Yar and beyond)?

    The man is a fool, and deserves not just to have the whip taken away (temporarily), but to be actually de-selected.

    Which is a lot less severe than what happened to the “Zionists” he apparently so despises. At least he would still be alive to bitch and moan about the injustices he would undoubtedly believe had been done to him.

    He should see the world from where we stand.

  4. Noga Says:

    “…anybody remotely familar with his The Wall knows he is no Jew-hater.”

    That’s like exonerating Mikis Theodorakis of pathological antisemitism because when he was younger he composed music about a concentration camp. Jew-hatred is a default position for this singer and the examples of his writing/composing compassionately about suffering Jews are the exceptions, being of a temporary nature and depending on Jews’ good behaviour whose parameters are decided by the author.

  5. zaccaerdydd Says:

    “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.”

    That’s what 2000 years of being ‘Palestinians’ teaches one. What does he think 60 odd years of being ‘Jews’ should teach you?


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