Tag Archives: holocaust memorial day

Investigations and media coverage in aftermath of LSE Palsoc/Femsoc event.

Aitemad Muhanna-Matar, Zena Agha, Rana B. Baker,  Mezna Qato at LSE last week.

Aitemad Muhanna-Matar, Zena Agha, Rana B. Baker, Mezna Qato at LSE last week.

Last Tuesday, 27th January (Holocaust Memorial Day), at a joint Palestine Society and Feminist Society event at the London School of Economics Zena Agha accused Israelis of utilising the idea of rape as a “weapon of war” against Palestinian women, and Rana B. Baker glorified Sana’a Mehaidli who blew herself up in Lebanon in 1985 killing two Israeli soldiers.

I wrote about the event here and LSE’s online newspaper has been covering all the fallout in detail.

LSE’s Israel Society immediately lodged a complaint against the LSE Student Union over Baker’s remarks (Why not over Agha’s remarks also?) and the Feminist Society immediately apologised:

“Having reviewed the statements, regarding applauding an attack against Israeli soldiers, made by a speaker at our event we apologise unequivocally on behalf of the Feminist Society. We give platforms to oppressed peoples, including those under violent occupations, but that does not mean that their views always reflect our own. The Feminist Society is truly regretful that we have caused offence.”

Shamefully, the same cannot be said of the Palestine Society which stated:

“Although the LSESU Palestine Society does not necessarily share the views held by the speaker, we maintain that she is entitled to them and is free to express her analysis on the issue, whatever that may be.”

Incredibly, the chairperson of last week’s event Aitemad Muhanna-Matar, a research fellow at the LSE’s Middle East Centre, then took the issue to new depths with her equating of Israelis and Nazis. She said to the online newspaper:

“These resistance military actions were done in the western history by the IRA, during the American and French revolutions. At a lesser extent, Jews resisted against the Nazist (sic) kidnappers, but faced certain death, the same as Palestinians who committed violence against the Israelis certainly face certain death.”

LSE’s Jewish Society lodged a formal complaint over that remark. Samiha Begum, LSE Student Union Black and Minority Ethnics Students Officer, defended Muhanna-Matar by explaining “She doesn’t compare the regimes she compares the resistance.”

Meanwhile, Zena Agha wrote on her own blog that I had accused her of “urging the audience to see ISIS in a different light – an accusation made all the more hurtful given that my cousin was killed by ISIS activities in Baghdad six months ago and my family is still in mourning.”

I am sorry for Zena’s loss. However, Zena did say just that. She told the audience not to adopt the Western narrative about ISIS.

I will keep you updated on the results of the investigations.

But let’s be clear. Imagine how our universities would look if whenever there was an event one side falsely accused the other of weaponising rape and then went on to glorify those who kill.

And more to the point not only did two Israeli soldiers lose their lives in Mehaidli’s suicide bombing but Mehaidli lost hers also at the tender age of 16.

Three families are still in mourning for the needless loss of loved ones. That is, in effect, what Baker glorified last week.

On a brighter note as a result of my blog about the event Baker’s sickening glorification was reported in Saturday’s Times. On Page 13 the headline read: Suicide Bomber was praised by LSE speaker

The Times reported that Baker “called for applause for Sana’a Mehaidli” and that she said her attack was “worthy of a standing ovation”. The Times also reported that LSE’s Jewish Society and the Israel Society lodged complaints prompting investigations by LSE’s governance, legal and policy division.

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Israeli deaths glorified at LSE on Holocaust Memorial Day.

Aitemad Muhanna-Matar, Zena Agha, Rana B. Baker,  Mezna Qato at LSE last night.

Aitemad Muhanna-Matar, Zena Agha, Rana B. Baker, Mezna Qato at LSE last night.

Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau but last night at the London School of Economics at a joint Palestine Society and Feminist Society event Israelis were portrayed as rapists and those who killed Israelis were applauded.

In front of a banner that read “Towards Freedom and Independence the Uprising Continues” a panel of four women described the role Palestinian women should play in the “uprising”.

Rana B. Baker, a student at SOAS who also writes for the Electronic Intifada, said Leila Khaled‘s “hijacking of planes was amazing”. The only problem, Baker said, was that Khaled had now aligned herself with the Assad regime.

Baker reserved her highest admiration for Sana’a Mehaidli who she said “deserves a standing ovation”. She told how, in 1985 in south Lebanon, Mehaidli “drove a car full of explosives and blew it up near an Israeli convoy killing two Israeli soldiers and injuring between 10 and 12 more.”

Baker described Mehaidli  as “the first female to carry out a suicide bombing in south Lebanon” and said Mehaidli was “more admirable for not being well-known and for not being Palestinian”.

Baker concluded by saying that Mehaidli’s “will calls for men and women to armed struggle against a colonial regime based on violence”.

Zena Agha portrayed Israelis as rapists of Palestinian women (see footage below). She said that “in Israel the view of Palestinian women is very derogatory and that rape had become a very prevalent idea. Rape for Israelis was almost a weapon of war against Palestinian women.”

She quoted Mordechai Kedar’s controversial “rape as terror deterrent” statement which, she said, was “illuminating about Israeli democracy”. She also described a sign in an Israeli coastal town which, apparently, read “Pound Their Mothers” as having “sexual connotations”.

She urged the student audience not to adopt western narratives about Hamas, Hizbollah and ISIS etc. who, she said, are all referred to as “terrorists”. She complained that “calling Hamas ‘terrorists’ robs them of any agency and delegitimises them”.

Mezna Qato, a research fellow at Cambridge University, said that boycotting Israel “is a small but powerful tactic that allows women to be lifted up by the spirit of the Palestinian struggle”.

And the event was chaired by Aitemad Muhanna-Matar, a research fellow at the LSE’s Middle East Centre, who said that the Palestinians had no choice “but to sacrifice their bodies” and that “radical Jewish settlers are more a threat to Israel than the Palestinians”.

It was a truly sickening event the most frightening part of which was when Zena Agha proclaimed “We are the future leaders”.

I, for one, wouldn’t want to be living in this country should that ever come to pass.

Another two fingers go up to British Jews.

sundaytimes

Today’s Sunday Times cartoon doesn’t work on any level, but you can see how it came about.

Over the last month certain British commentators have been writhing around in pure ecstasy at the prospect of the Israeli electorate moving to the right. Some of the commentary has made me wince with even Jewish commentators hinting that Israel has shifted to the far right; the connotation being that Israel has finally become a fully fledged fascist state, the antithesis of what would have been expected after the horrors of Nazi Germany.

But, sadly for them, Israel actually shifted to the left in the recent general election. All those columns that certain journalists wanted to write about “the fascist State of Israel” will never see the light of day now. The time they spent concocting the most vile aspersions to cast on Israel has been wasted. Guardian and Independent newspaper columnists have had to, on the whole, hold their fire since the election. Labour politicians like Richard Burden MP have been forced to hold off tweeting the most nastiest denunciations of Israel.

But for some reason The Sunday Times, of all papers, couldn’t hold off publishing Gerald Scarfe’s vile slur of a blood libel with its depiction of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a callous murderer of innocents, including Palestinian children.

And then there’s the context. Not only is it Holocaust Memorial Day today but it is also just two days after The Commentator broke the news that Liberal Democrat MP David Ward had specifically attacked “the Jews” on his website by writing:

“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.”

And by juxtaposing the Holocaust with the West Bank and Gaza Ward is actually mocking what happened to the Jews in the death camps, whatever sympathy for them he tries to evince in his statement. The West Bank and Gaza are no Auschwitz, Mr Ward, even though many a Jew hater has tried to equate them.

Ward is not fit to be an MP, but what is more disturbing is the groundswell of support he seems to have had and his comments have flushed out just how nasty his supporters are. For example, under the clip of Ward’s appearance on Sky you can read:

davidward

“Israel is worse than Hitler” and “Is Hitler the new Moses?” These are your supporters, Mr Ward.

I also got tweeted this from Mash’al Hanif in response to one of my tweets about the Sunday Times cartoon:

davidward1

Well, yes, Mash’al, it does hurt, but it hurts mainly because I always thought the UK was a comfortable place for Jewish people to live. I still do, but that nonsensical Sunday Times cartoon has rocked that certainty ever so slightly.

But I am also grateful that although I deeply feel Jewish I, however, feel no religious obligation to dress as a more religious Jew and, therefore, exposing myself to the horrors of what the Sunday Times cartoon might compel a person with a violent bent towards Israel and/or Jewish people to carry out. Another Toulouse comes to mind.

And, I’m sorry, Mash’al, but it wasn’t me who targeted the Prophet Muhammad. And nor would I. And for that matter it wasn’t Jewish people either, although Mash’al’s comment goes to show how the initial rumour that the maker of that horrendous film depicting Muhammad in such an unseemly manner was Jewish has now achieved permanence.

After the last week one can see why the Jewish people have traditionally moved around so much, forever trying to evade the animus that certain parts of society have always held for us.

(Thanks to The Commentator which also broke the news of the cartoon and thanks to Chas Newkey-Burden who has written so meaningfully about David Ward MP and those like him who think that its the Jews who should be held up to higher scrutiny after having lost six million people in the Holocaust.)

It’s the Holocaust, stupid.

Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Means Freedom) at the entrance to Auschwitz where 1.1 million people died, 90% of them Jews

Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Means Freedom) at the entrance to Auschwitz where 1.1 million people died, 90% of them Jews

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is extremely adept at keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive, but, sadly, not for memorialising or academic purposes.

Many a PSC event, or those held by other anti-Israel organisations, seem to start off by invoking the Holocaust.

And why not?

For sure, the very sound of the word “Holocaust” makes an audience’s ears prick up.

The Holocaust. Two simple but emotive words.

You would hope that the memory of 6,000,000 Jews (including 1,000,000 children) and 4,000,000 Communists, gypsies, homosexuals and the physically and mentally disabled would only be invoked when utterly necessary.

Maybe on Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January each year), a visit to Auschwitz or Dachau maybe or maybe an educational class about the Holocaust. This is appropriate.

But a talk presented by the PSC at the House of Commons entitled Ending the siege on Gaza – Eyewitness reports from the Viva Palestina convoy, Parliamentary delegations, and Westminster University Architects is an inappropriate place.

I doubt, somehow, that Gaza, Viva Palestina, Parliamentary delegations and Westminster University Architects have anything to do with Jews being gassed, hanged, shot, burned alive, having medical experiments performed on their genitals and having their corpses bulldozed into mass unmarked graves.

Holocaust denial is sickening enough (and there is plenty of it around in Iran and Arab countries) but gratuitously invoking the Holocaust, as Lord Andrew Phillips of Sudbury did at the PSC event on tuesday, is sickening in its own way.

Perhaps he should be forgiven as he is a Liberal Democrat peer. As we well know, the Liberal Democrats, wishing to entice the Muslim vote, are not well-disposed to Israel.

But being anti-Israel is no excuse to utilise the Holocaust just to get an audience’s attention. If Lord Phillips thinks he was being intelligent and authoritative, he wasn’t.

According to Jonathan Hoffman Lord Phillips was eager to tell everyone that his first visual memory was of the Holocaust (he was born in 1939) and he suggested that Israel was created only because of the guilt felt by the West after the Holocaust.

Lord Phillips, according to Hoffman, also said, “Europe cannot think straight about Israel because of the Holocaust and America is in the grip of the well-organised Jewish lobby.”

The sub-text to these comments seems to be that if six million Jews hadn’t died at the hands of those blinking Nazis there would be peace in the world today. There would be no need for Al Qaida, Hamas and Hizbollah. It’s all because of that blinking Holocaust, stupid.

Even from the grave Hitler is exerting his presence thanks to the likes of Lord Phillips.

Just for good measure Lord Phillips said he believes that Israel has a right to exist but no one who addresses a Palestine Solidarity Campaign meeting believes this and certainly wouldn’t be invited to give a talk if they did.

If he was pushed further he would state that Israel has a right to exist but that the Palestinians must have the have a right to return, which would extinguish the Jewish nature of Israel.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign supports Hamas (or, at least, doesn’t denounce it), a banned terrorist organisation. Hamas has sent many suicide bombers into packed Israeli restaurants and would continue to do so if it wasn’t for the security wall built, far too belatedly, by Israel.

Supporting Hamas is bad enough but the PSC and its speakers should leave those who have been tortured and murdered by the Nazis to rest in peace and not have their experiences raised for political point scoring or to grab an audience’s attention, especially when the topic at hand is totally unrelated to the Holocaust.

Holocaust Denial Day down at Westminster

27th January is the day the death camp, Auschwitz, in southern Poland, was liberated. So the 27th is Holocaust Memorial Day worldwide, excepting, now, the British Parliament.

There are ways to criticise Israel but using Holocaust Memorial Day is not one of them.

Out of all the Holocaust survivors worldwide the shameless pro-Palestine campaign located one who inexplicably hates Israel, and everything it stands for, to the core. His name is Hajo Meyer.

Born in Germany in 1924 Meyer survived 10 months in Auschwitz. Now he tours internationally speaking out against Israel and Zionism, the same Israel which if it had been created soon after the Balfour Declaration 0f 1917, and not 31 years later, would have meant he would not have seen his family and friends gassed to death.

Meyer (centre), Corbyn (left)

So how can a human being like this speak out against what would have saved so many lives?

It is inconceivable, surely, that a man who has witnessed so much death and cruelty can criticise a notion that would have stopped all that suffering.

The pro-Palestinian campaign can have sympathy for the people of Gaza without equating Gaza to Auschwitz. But this equation is nothing more than implied Holocaust denial.

1400 Palestinians, some say much less, died during Operation Cast Lead. 1,500,000 died in Auschwitz. There are no gas chambers in Gaza.

But that is of no concern to pro-Palestine campaign Holocaust deniers.

Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism is on the increase. Yesterday, I had a Palestinian taxi driver who told me he doubted the figure of 6,000,000 dead Jews. He went on tell me how the Jews never integrate in the country they live in and how they all moved to the Middle East from Europe just to control the region.

It was a 30 minute tirade specifically against Jews (not Zionists or Israelis).

Totally ashamed, I had to agree with everything he said. I thought about questioning him but I realised that first, it was a lost cause, and second, he was dropping me home and might see the mezuza on my front door!

But back to Holocaust Denial Day at Parliament. Jonathan Hoffman sums up the gist of Meyer’s talk thus:

“Jewish victims in central Europe had hardly any sympathy for Israel; Zionists picked and chose the best ones to escape to Palestine; Zionists had no sympathy for holocaust victims, they referred to them as “pieces of unusable material”.

Whoever has ever picked up a book about Zionism will know that Zionism was about saving every Jew from discrimination, not seeing fellow Jews as “unusable material”.

After Meyer we had a speech from Haidar Eid via telephone from Gaza who spoke about the “genocidal campaign” of the Israelis against the people of Gaza. There was no mention of the Egyptians who are also building a wall on their side of Gaza to keep Hamas out of Egypt.

In the meantime five pro-Israel supporters had been evicted from the room by the police at the behest of Jeremy Corbyn MP, who had sponsored the event, for making a stand against the despicable speech of Meyer. Here we were in Parliament listening to a speech that paints as total evil anyone that is a supporter of Israel. They were given no platform and had to make their voices heard and anger felt.

Meyer’s biased rhetoric can only darken the view that people have of Israel and people like me, who support Israel and its right to exist. This propaganda is exactly the same type that my taxi driver was brought up on.

To end the meeting the pro-Palestine campaign tried to make itself look reasonable by inviting various other people to speak about their own causes. Armenia, Sri Lanka, Haiti, Ireland and Africa were spoken about but the speakers were allocated a mere two minutes.

The representative of Armenia spoke about the child genocide that was taking place every day in Africa; 3,000 children die each day there. This is surely more important than Gaza but then African children do not walk into cafes and blow themselves up killing innocent people like Hamas do.

27th January 2010 can now be remembered as Holocaust Denial Day in our Parliament.