Tag Archives: Holocaust

Israel’s “beautiful resistance” to suicide bombers: A response to St James’s Church Rector Lucy Winkett

St James’s Church’s Rector Lucy Winkett’s defence of her church’s installation of a replica of Israel’s security wall in a piece for The Guardian is a legal and moral failure.

First the legal side. She states that Israel’s wall is “illegal under international law”. It is incredible that so many non-lawyers (and a few actual lawyers) state this with such ease when there is little proper evidence of such “illegality”.

Rector Winkett is relying on the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice. A frame repeatedly projected on to St James’s Church’s replica wall states “In 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague stated the Wall was illegal and it should be dismantled.”

But an advisory opinion is just that; advisory and an opinion. It sets no legal precedent.

Even if Israel’s wall was “illegal” there is the legal argument of self-defence. If I used illegal means to stop someone killing me I would be guilty of nothing more than self-defence. In parallel with this Israel’s wall has stopped Palestinian suicide bombers killing Israeli civilians.

There are legal opinions for and against Israel’s security wall, but for Rector Winkett to declare the wall “illegal under international law” makes a mockery of her claim in The Guardian that “we are not ‘pro’ one side or another”.

On the moral side Rector Winkett derides as “irresponsible” those who claim “we are aligning ourselves with those who support the Holocaust, suicide bombings or that we are antisemitic”.

But Rector Winkett’s wish for Israel’s security wall to come down will encourage suicide bombers sent by the likes of Islamist terror group Hamas to resume their murder of Israeli civilians, including those living on the West Bank, which the building of the wall has successfully disrupted.

The Hamas Charter specifically calls for the murder of Jews, so, yes, Hamas does support the Holocaust, suicide bombings and is blatantly antisemitic.

And then there are the organisations that St James’s Church has expressly aligned itself with for Bethlehem Unwrapped.

Rector Winkett writes that St James’s is supporting “a peaceful Palestinian principle known as ‘beautiful resistance’; expressed in theatres, music projects…”.

Sami Awad, director of the Holy Land Trust, might believe in “beautiful resistance” but that doesn’t exclude a belief in violence. Awad is on record as saying that such non-violent resistance “is not a substitute for the armed struggle.”

Incidentally, all net proceeds from Bethlehem Unwrapped go to the Holy Land Trust. (That is should there be any net proceeds, the cost of the 12 day replica wall installation being an incredible £30,000.)

Meanwhile, recent news footage shows Interpal’s primary trustee Essam Mustafa with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

And War On Want and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions are part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a movement that campaigns for Israel’s destruction.

Rector Winkett writes in her Guardian piece that all viewpoints are listened to without exception and that visitors have been allowed to write a prayer or message of peace on the wall and that anything offensive has been immediately removed. She also writes that most conversations have been respectful.

Sadly, many have not been. A woman going in to St James’s Church for Bethlehem Unwrapped’s comedy evening responded to a question about the Holocaust with “What Holocaust?” A supporter of Israel was called a “friggin Jew” and “quenelle 4 ever” appeared on the replica wall (see middle of replica wall below written in blue):

wallquenelle

Rector Winkett also writes that people have written “this wall saves lives”. However, this was subsequently changed to “this wall enslaves lives”.

Bethlehem Unwrapped is not a respectful project however much Rector Winkett is trying to convince us. It mocks Israel’s valid attempts to keep both Israelis and Palestinians alive. Palestinians cannot now be sent as suicide bombers by Hamas.

And it fails to recognise even the possibility that the main problem for Bethlehem’s Christians is not the security wall at all but intimidation by Hamas similar to that carried out by Islamists elsewhere.

Moreover, St James’s Church’s Bethlehem Unwrapped festival has attracted antisemites, Holocaust deniers, those campaigning for the destruction of Israel and those who condone violence to that end.

This may not have been St James’s Church’s intention but this is what has happened and for this Rector Winkett should apologise to Britain’s Jewish community which is bearing the main brunt of the backlash.

The biggest irony is that St James’s Church itself is protected by a security wall; a tall metal fence that contains a locked door. When the door is unlocked it is heavily guarded. Some may call this a checkpoint.

St James’s Church is, understandably, protecting itself from anyone harbouring ill feeling towards it and who may be inclined to carry out an atrocity similar to those carried out against Churches in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt by militant Islamists.

Israel is doing the same.

(This piece was originally posted at CiFWatch)

Holocaust analogies and calls for Israel’s destruction at SOAS’ Centre for Palestine Studies.

Naomi Foyle, Rachel Shabi, Bidisha, Miranda Pennell, Selma Dabbagh last night.

Naomi Foyle, Rachel Shabi, Bidisha, Miranda Pennell, Selma Dabbagh last night.

This article by me also appears at CIFWatch

The London Middle East Institute (LMEI), which is based at the School of Oriental and African Studies, used to give serious lectures. Not any more. The recently established Centre for Palestine Studies (CPS) now sits like a cuckoo in the nest of the LMEI.

Last night the first LMEI lecture of the new academic year was presented under the auspices of CPS. Palestine Now: Writers Respond was all about attacking Israel; nothing about studying the Palestinians.

Bidisha (The Guardian), Rachel Shabi (The Guardian), Selma Dabbagh (author), Miranda Pennell (film-maker) and Naomi Foyle (British Writers in Support of Palestine) had simply come to talk about how to fight for “the Palestinian cause” and against “Hasbarah”.

New students heard calls for the destruction of Israel dressed up as justice for the Palestinians, racist calls to boycott Israel and a totally gratuitous Holocaust analogy. Shame on LMEI for allowing this.

Dabbagh, Pennell and Foyle said they supported BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) against Israel.

Dabbagh explained that she writes in order to get more people involved in the Palestinian cause and told of how she refused to speak at Jewish Book Week (JBW), when asked to, because of its Israeli government funding.

Bidisha suggested it might have been better for Dabbagh to go to JBW and get her message across to the audience, but Dabbagh said she felt she couldn’t break the call to boycott Israel.

Dabbagh, who is also a lawyer, has been living in Bahrain from where she said she has been helping to sue, not the Bahrain police, but the British police!

Bemusingly, Shabi said that she agreed with the ‘D’ of BDS (divestment) but not the ‘B’ (cultural boycott) which she viewed as a “witch-hunt”. Bidisha said she was equally “ambivalent” about the boycott.

During the Q&A I asked whether any of the panelists had accepted funding from a government whose actions they disagreed with and what the panelists were doing about the oppression of gays, women and dissidents under Hamas rule. I said BDS was racist and that it calls for the destruction of Israel by demanding “the return of Palestinian refugees”.

Naomi Foyle refused to accept that Israel would be destroyed by BDS. Using a crude Holocaust analogy she explained:

After the Holocaust Jews, who suffered in the Holocaust, were allowed reparations. They had their property returned to them. They were allowed to sue. Of course they were allowed to do it. That was their right. The Palestinian refugees, whose population has mushroomed, are living in squalid conditions, horrendous conditions with no passports, no freedom of movement, no sanitation, no hospital care. These people have keys to their family homes and their right to these family homes must be recognised. Once that right is recognised then the negotiations can begin on what this means for Israel as a state; whether it will become one state, whether it will become a secular state. No one is calling for the destruction of Israel. Is South Africa destroyed now because the blacks in South Africa have human rights? Israel is being asked to evolve.”

Obviously Israel would be destroyed as a Jewish state, but it would have been decent for another panelist to have pointed out to Foyle that it was slightly impossible for 6,000,000 Jews to have had their property returned because they were actually dead, having been murdered by the Nazis. However, no one uttered a word; not even Shabi.

And ignoring that more than 50 rockets had landed in Israel on Monday alone without condemnation from any quarter Foyle stated:

“Palestine is shrinking by the day. We have to say no, we have to put moral pressure on. Palestinians haven’t been allowed, in international opinion, to fight back with armed resistance. That’s been a complete disaster for them.”

Foyle continued that BDS doesn’t call for Israelis to go unfunded by the Israeli government, as “that’s their right as taxpayers”. She said it merely calls for Israelis not to leave Israel to perform and for performers not to go to Israel.

She said she had taken funding from the Canadian and British governments to support her writing and education, and then added:

“If there was a boycott of Great Britain that had any hope of helping the people of Afganistan or Iraq and all I was being asked to do was not travel abroad to a foreign festival; it’s a no brainer.”

This all goes to show that boycotting Israel has nothing to do with objecting to settlements. It is a racist boycott of Israel per se.

Anti-Israel activists neatly try to evade accusations of racism by claiming that “Palestinian society” has called for BDS. In reality, such a call has merely come from a large group of tiny anti-Israel NGOs posing as “Palestinian society”.

Shabi, who described herself as a British/Israeli/Iraqi, then told of her research for her book which involved her seeing how easy it is to buy a house in a settlement and how she had to perfect a “back story” to do this. She said she knew her back story was perfect when her neighbour asked why she was disguised as a “British Jewish religious tourist”.

Meanwhile, Dabbagh admitted that she was “uncomfortable with the way women and gays are treated by Hamas”, but blamed Israel’s “siege” for keeping Hamas in power.

And Bidusha, addressing me directly, said that Palestinian children are brutalised by “the siege of Gaza”. I replied that Egypt is also conducting “the siege”. She had no answer.

As for the future, Shabi concluded that there was already “one-state on the ground” and the discussion in Israel was now just centred around whether it will be a left-wing or right-wing state. This is, of course, pure fantasy from Shabi.

While this brainwashing of new students was taking place a brave girl, Malala Yousufzai, who is 14, was still recovering in hospital after being shot in the neck and head by the Taliban for standing up for women’s education in Pakistan.

SOAS’ students should look to the likes of Yousufzai, not to phoney human rights activists, for inspiration in fighting against real injustice.

“Naqba Day” extremists spew hate outside Israeli Embassy.

Hezbollah flag, with gun, on streets of London.

Hezbollah flag, with gun, on streets of London.

It is testament to the power of propaganda that the Palestinians and their “supporters” still react with incredible rage to an event that never concerned them and that happened 63 years ago.

1948 was the Jewish Spring, when the Jewish people decided that no more would they subject themselves to the whims of societies that were less than welcoming to them.

Pogroms in Russia, the Holocaust and being treated as dhimmi by Arab countries had taken their toll and by 1948 they had fought off British colonial rule in their ancient homeland and through the United Nations re-created a Jewish state in British Mandate Palestine that has been thriving ever since.

63 years later we finally have the Arab Spring, although it is turning into an Arab Slaughter with Christians now being attacked in Egypt and Libya and Syria massacreing their own people, the latter probably with the help of Iran.

But in 1948 the Arabs thought they would massacre not their own people, but the Jews. But it didn’t happen. The Jews won. It was the ultimate insult for these Arab countries that had treated their own Jews as inferior subjects for so long.

In response many Arab countries forcibly ejected their own Jewish populations. Around 900,000 Jews from Arab countries, who were indigenous, lost everything. Racist laws forced them to leave the Arab countries with nothing.

Out of a Jewish population in Arab countries of about 1,000,000 pre-1948 only 5,000 remain now. It was an ethnic cleansing of the highest order.

Yet, 63 years later instead of creating something positive the Palestinian national identity is marked by hatred and disaster. Their self-identity is based on little that is positive, but on what they claim has happened to them. It is a victim mentality of the highest order. “Naqba Day” is a symbol of their victimhood.

And so to London today where about 200 of their most extreme supporters called for Palestinians to get even more violent. They screamed “Victory for the Intifada” and waved the Hezbollah flag with its AK47 gun on it.

They called for jihad against Israel, called Israel a “terrorist state” and called for Israel’s destruction. Goodness knows what they were saying in Arabic. Please let me know if you can translate the clips below.

The Naturei Karta turned up about two and a half hours late to a heroes welcome. Children sat atop the shoulders of the extremist anti-Israel protesters; another generation about to grow up fed with lies and hate.

Meanwhile, the pro-Israel protesters sang “The People of Israel live”, which was slightly more positive than the hate-filled anti-Israel protesters. You will sense the hatred from the following clips:

The photos.:

Israeli Embassy

Israeli Embassy

Naturei Karta

Naturei Karta

View from Wagamama's

View from Wagamama's

Amnesty and Middle East Monitor’s Israel hatefest love-in.

It is getting boring writing about Amnesty International and its hatred towards Israel but Michael Weiss wrote a recent blog asking “Why is Amnesty hosting a Hamas-friendly publisher of racists?

On May 23rd its London office is hosting Middle East Monitor’s (MEMO) “Complicity in Oppression: Does the Media Aid Israel?” event.

Weiss is Communications Director of the Henry Jackson Society and a spokesperson for Just Journalism.

As he points out in his piece MEMO is run by Dr Daud Abdullah who signed the Hamas-supporting Istanbul Declaration which calls on the ‘Islamic Nation’ to fight any ‘foreign warship’ attempting to block arms smuggling to Hamas. Presumably, such a ‘foreign warship’ could include one from the Royal Navy.

Weiss also quotes from a MEMO essay by Khalid Amayreh titled Netanyahu’s Lebensraum in which Amayreh denies that “these pathological liars from Eastern Europe…had any truly historical rights in the land of Palestine”.

Weiss signs off his piece asking us to ring Amnesty (02070331500) to ask why it is hosting this conference.

But according to Weiss Amnesty’s response is:

“Providing space for an event does not mean that we necessarily agree with all of the views of participants. The key point is that free debate takes place.”

Presumably, then, when Amnesty puts on its own conference it does “necessarily agree with all of the views of the participants”, like the one on April 13th where a photo was shown of a Palestinian teenager with a perfect Star of David, allegedly, tattooed on his forearm by an Israeli soldier using nothing more than broken glass.

Will Amnesty investigate this photo? Where is this Palestinian now? Surely, there would still be a scar on his forearm eventhough this incident happened some 8 years ago. I asked Ala Abu Dheer, who showed the photo, to email me details of the case so I could take it up with the Israeli Embassy, but I’m still waiting for the email.

But in response to Weiss’s piece MEMO has just posted an incredible rant by Khalid Amayreh titled Honest People can’t be indifferent to Israeli fascism.

Amayreh’s response is a slur on the 6,000,000 Jews executed by the Nazis. It has to be read to be believed and to see what Amnesty has become by hosting such a vile organisation like MEMO.

Here are some quotes from Amayreh’s piece:

“I have no problem comparing Israel with the worst criminals in history, including Hitler’s Nazis. It is true that Israel has not introduced gas chambers into Palestinian towns and villages (although relatively innocuous tear gas is often used in confined spaces, against the manufacturers’ recommendations, with often lethal results). However, gas chambers were never the only extermination method used by the Nazis. Israel has been killing and tormenting Palestinians in a variety of ways that, for sheer brutality and evil, don’t differ in substance from Nazi Germany’s murderous behaviour. Moreover, it is important to remember that the Nazi Holocaust didn’t begin with Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen…”

To compare the fate of the Palestinians to that of the 6,000,000 Jews slaughtered by the Nazis is vile and mendacious.

And he writes “The minute a Zionist Jew sets foot on Palestinian soil in order to live on land stolen from its rightful owners; or live in a house seized at gunpoint from its native Palestinian occupants, this Zionist Jew loses his sense of morality.” If someone wrote something similar about an immigrant African to the UK could they not be accused of inciting racial hatred?

Amayreh also talks of “hundreds of thousands of Christians and Muslims” having lived in “Palestine” when the Zionists arrived. He has wiped the many indigenous Jews already living there off the map.

He signs off by saying that “Zionists are the last people who are fit to lecture the Palestinians on the evils of terrorism…Israel represents ultimate terror…For arrogant Zionists to call us terrorists is, to quote Professor Norman Finkelstein, ‘beyond chutzpah’.”

But I do agree with his last words that “Palestine will be free”. Yes, free from the women oppressors and anti-Semitic Jew killers of Hamas who also execute their own, Palestinian, people by thowing them off the tops of tall buildings while their hands are tied behind their backs if they don’t follow Hamas’s strict religious and political doctrines.

This is the Hamas that is supported by MEMO and the MEMO which is being hosted by Amnesty.

Anti-Semitic protests finally force Ahava to close in Covent Garden.

Bloodied but unbowed: Ahava after a recent attack.

Bloodied but unbowed: Ahava after a recent attack.

What a shame that Ahava’s landlords have finally succumbed to pressure from Ahava’s neighbours not to extend Ahava’s lease due to the regular noisy protests in the vicinity of Ahava.

And for anyone in doubt as to the true nature of the anti-Ahava protests one only has to glance at the website that promotes them to find rhetoric and images that equate the plight of the Palestinians with the plight of the Jews under the Nazis.

If anyone really think that these protests are simply about Israel’s so-called occupation and Ahava’s production plant being located on the “West Bank”, then they are seriously deluded.

For example, the said website reads:

“John played a very appropriate tune on his saxophone, sung in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943 and later made famous by Paul Robeson, a voice for the oppressed, who can be heard singing the song here. Images of Nazi Germany in the video are similar to what Palestinians are experiencing today under Israeli occupation. Here’s a link to a comparison of some very graphic images of Nazi Germany and Palestine and I’m certain that you’ll find the similarities striking.”

And the protests call for a boycott of Israel, not just Ahava (see end photo).

The reason that the lease was not extended has nothing to do with the landlord disagreeing with Israeli policy, but all to do with the noisy anti-Ahava protests, which some of Ahava’s neighbours ran to the landlord, like squealing little schoolboys, to complain about.

According to the Jewish Chronicle, Colin George of The Loft, which is next door to Ahava, commented:

“I’m pleased Ahava is leaving. It’s brought the street down. I’ve complained to the landlords, as has everyone here. Everyone would like them to leave. I wish they had left two years ago.”

That last comment does not ring at all true. The anti-Ahava protests have been taking place for around about 15 or 16 months at the most and relations between the shops were very friendly before the protests started.

Now, instead of condemning the anti-Israel protests for causing the nuisance, quite incredibly, Mr George has condemned Ahava!

I stand by my comment in the JC:

“Maybe the neighbours could have had a more positive role and spoken to the protesters, rather than take it out on Ahava. It’s sad that this country will allow a lawfully trading shop to be chased out because of the politics of people who disagree with Israel’s basic existence.”

One might disagree with the legality of the “settlements”, but that is just conjecture, opinion and a matter of interpretation. There is no law anywhere that states the “settlements” are illegal.

We could debate their legality and morality until the cows come home (and have a very interesting discussion over it).

Therefore, the protests outside Ahava really come down to one thing; the existence of the Jewish state.

If I am wrong and the protests are simply about Ahava and so-called Israeli oppression of the Palestinians then virtually every shop in London should have a regular protest outside it for breaching some form of morality or law. Sweat shops in China, anyone?

And if the anti-Ahava protests are simply anti-Ahava then surely they have achieved their purpose. They have managed to shut down Ahava and so will not need to take place anymore.

My bet is that the protests will continue. They are more about defaming the Jewish state than anything else, and that says all you need to know about the nature of the beast we are dealing with here; anti-Semitism.

And in this specific instance I am not playing, what some call, “the anti-Semitism card”.

Are these protests really about Ahava?

Are these protests really about Ahava?

Pro-Israel activist brutally attacked at “Celebrate Palestine” festival.

(Updated on Monday morning)

As many will be aware by now a pro-Israel activist was brutally attacked at the “Celebrate Palestine” festival at SOAS today.

Allegedly, the activist was told by a festival-goer that the Jews were cowards for walking so meekly into the gas chambers, that it was a shame the Nazis didn’t finish the job and that it is a shame it can’t happen to the Jews now living in Israel. The activist was then, allegedly, bitten on his cheek by another festival-goer.

The attack drew blood from the pro-Israel activist’s cheek and there was blood around the alleged assailant’s mouth.

Film will eventually be released of the attack as well as of the aftermath. Arrests were made and the pro-Israel activist went to University College Hospital to be treated.

One would like to say that the “Celebrate Palestine” festival lived up to its name, but, as stated in my previous blog, one of the introductory speakers was more concerned with viciously tearing down Israel and Zionism, instead of celebrating Palestine.

This is some of what Lowkey had to say to the students at SOAS (the actual audio is at the end):

“If we understand Palestine, first we have to understand Zionism. And what is Zionism? Zionism was never about self-determination. This is a myth and this is a lie. Zionism is about colonialism, Zionism is about supremacy.

When we talk about the struggle of the Palestinian people, we are talking about the struggle of indigenous people, of native people. This is about indigenous people resisting a foreign occupying presence.

When we look at the aboriginal people of Australia, over 500 nations were genocided (sic) to create one. We look at Christopher Columbus, we look at Captain Cook, they have a brother in Theodore Herzl, a brother in supremacy.

Why are we allowing this settler ethnic cleansing entity to continue to wreak havoc on the world? As much as that may pain some of us to admit, this is the case.

We are not talking about a normal country when we talk about the state of Israel, we are talking about a state which has invaded and occupied every single one of its neighbours from Syria to Lebanon to Egypt. Why is this ok? Why is this something we are allowing to happen, that this government is fully supporting? From the Balfour Declaration to now, why is it supporting this colonial conquest?

All the European states are in full agreement that the settlements that currently house over half a million illegal Israeli settlers on Palestinian land, all of them are in agreement that the settlements are illegal. But why is there this continued collaboration of the EU with Elbit Systems, with the weapons manufacturer of unarmed drones that wreaked havoc on the Gaza Strip?

Everyone knows the settlements are illegal. This state is expanding. It is an expanding state in the middle of the Middle East. It is an expansionist state. It is a state involved in expansion.

What is the price of this expansion? The price is the seven million Palestinian refugees worldwide. That is the price of this experiment, this racist experiment.”

Lowkey at SOAS

(Lowkey begins at 2mins 50secs. Before that is Karma Nabulsi finishing her talk).

Arabs and Israelis facing the Holocaust and the Nakba (A book and a talk at SOAS)

On tuesday two hundred students attended SOAS to hear Gilbert Achcar, a Professor of International Relations at SOAS, talk about his new book The Arabs and the Holocaust: the Arab-Israeli War of Narratives.

Achcar claimed:

1. The Arabs bear no responsibility at all for the Holocaust.
2. The Israelis have Nazified the Palestinian people.
3. This Nazification has come about by Israel’s broadcasting of the Mufti’s connections with Hitler during WW2.
4. The Israelis must apologise for the Nakba (the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948) for there to be peace.
5. The Israelis are today still frozen with fear by Holocaust.
6. Any anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial in the Arab world is purely a result of Israel’s aggression or Israel’s societal shift to the right.

He presented the Arab and Israeli narratives, as he saw them, on the conflict as follows:

Arab – Israel is a Zionist colonial enterprise where the “ethnic cleansing” of 1948 was a defining moment. The expansion of this colonial state continued after the 1967 war and continues to this day with the oppression of the Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza.

Israeli – Zionism was a response to anti-Semitism and Israel was created as redemption for the Holocaust. The Arabs are like the Nazis. There was no ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and the 1948 War was purely a defensive one.

Achcar didn’t refute the Arab narrative but did refute the Israeli one.

He said that there had been a total lack of sympathy with Nazism throughout the Arab world and no military actions were undertaken by the Arabs with the Axis powers but Israel needs to acknowledge its role in the Nakba and its oppression of the Palestinians.

Meanwhile, Arabs must acknowledge the role of the Holocaust on the Israeli psyche.

Mohammad Amin al-Husayni (The Mufti) cleared by Achcar of all charges of conspiring with the Nazis

Mohammad Amin al-Husayni (The Mufti) cleared by Gilbert Achcar of any responsibility at all for the Holocaust

Next to speak was Palestinian author and journalist Nur Masalha.

Masalha said “we are not responsible for the Holocaust. We are its indirect victims. We paid for the Holocaust and we are still paying for it. The Jews were its victims but we are also its victims. We are the Jews of the Jews. We have become the Jews of history” and he spoke of “concentration camps in Gaza”.

He claimed the Mufti was not an anti-Semite and that as Jews and Muslims had fought in several wars together this was proof that there was no history of anti-Semitism in the Middle East.

He thought that a Holocaust denier in France would go to prison and in the UK would lose his job but if you deny the Nakba in the UK, like the current Chief Rabbi did, you go to the House of Lords.

Last to speak was Idith Zertal of the Institute for Jewish Studies, University of Basel. Again we heard that the Arabs had nothing to do with the Holocaust. She said that too much had been said about the Mufti and that the Palestinians are the scapegoats of the Israelis.

She also felt that Israelis are so helpless in the face of such an event like the Holocaust, and how it was allowed to happen, that Israelis are transferring their rage onto the Palestinians.

She said that even the Poles share in this Israeli “rage” because as so many Israeli youngsters visit Auschwitz they think the Poles exterminated the Jews.

How I wished for a Melanie Phillips or a Geoffrey Alderman to be on the panel.

The audience asked the usual banal questions including on the prospect of a one-state solution, while a few felt the urge to label themselves “Jewish” before comparing Israel to Nazi Germany.

I also contributed:

1. How can Achcar claim that the Palestinians had no responsibility for the Holocaust? The Arabs had persuaded the British to shut the door of British Mandate Palestine to Jewish immigration leaving the Jews to their fate at the hands of the Nazis. (There was also the 1937 Peel Commission which offered the Jews just 20% of British Mandate Palestine. Had the Arabs accepted even more Jews would have escaped the Nazis).

Achcar told me that all nations had shut their doors to the Jews including “racist Britain”.

Evenso, that doesn’t absolve the Arabs from all responsibility for the Holocaust!

2. Israel does bear little, if any, responsibility for the 1948 Nakba as UN Resolution 181 created two states; one for the Jews and one for the Palestinians. The Arabs rejected it and chose war instead.

Achcar countered that the Palestinians had a right to resist the takeover of “their country”.

3. Jews were not treated well in Arab countries. They were dhimmi (tolerated and protected but subordinate) and one million were expelled after Israel’s creation compared to the 750,000 Arabs that left British Mandate Palestine/Israel. There was also the Farhud of 1941 during which 175 Iraqi Jews were massacred.

Achcar answered that it was debatable as to why the Jews had “migrated” but it was nothing compared to the fate of the Palestinians. He also said that despite being dhimmi Jews had always fared better in Arab and Muslim countries than in Western countries.

4. As for Nazification if anything it was the Arabs who were doing this of Israel with slogans like “Stop the Holocaust in Gaza” and talk of Palestinians in concentration camps. Even Nur Masalha had just mentioned concentration camps.

Masalha replied that it was the British who invented concentration camps so he, of course, was not referencing the Holocaust.

Achcar did however dispute Masalha’s astonishing claim that the Mufti was not an anti-Semite. He said the Mufti was anti-Semitic as evidenced by his radio broadcasts from Berlin inciting Muslims to kill the Jews wherever you find them. But, Achcar said, this had all come to nothing anyway.

Hizbollah fighters: According to Gilbert Achcar the Nazi salutes are purely down to Israel's behaviour.

Hizbollah fighters: According to Gilbert Achcar the Nazi salutes are purely down to Israel's behaviour.

However, I would suggest, it isn’t the Holocaust that keeps Israelis locked in a state of fear but these murderous pronouncements of intent by the Mufti which have been taken up by Hamas and Hizbollah.

The Hamas Charter explicitly calls on Muslims to kill Jews and Sheikh Nasrallah, the head of Hizbollah, said that “if all the Jews gather in Israel it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide”.

But not once were Hamas or Hizbollah even mentioned. There was no acknowledgment of any Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. There was no acknowledgment of the ethnic cleansing of one million Jews from Arab countries who had to leave everything behind them.

Quite incredibly, all three speakers painted the Arab nations, and the Palestinians in particular, as innocence personified.

The only thoughtful comment came from Idith Zertal.

She agreed that some Arabs do Nazify Israel but felt that Israelis invented this type of the Nazification.

However, she felt it was now important for both sides to find other words to describe the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Holocaust was a unique tragedy and there is no place for such comparisons today.

Finally, after two long hours, some sense was spoken.