by Melanie Phillips
People have been expressing severe shock and revulsion at the ugly remarks by LibDem MP David Ward about Israel and the Holocaust.
As The Commentator reported, to commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day Ward said the following:
‘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.’
The Liberal Democrat party has denounced his statements as ‘unacceptable’ and is reportedly considering stripping him of the LibDem whip. Such an action would nevertheless be merely cosmetic. For these ‘unacceptable’ attitudes are widespread in the Liberal Democrat party -- as illustrated by both the report on the furore and readers’ comments here on Liberal Democrat Voice.
Moreover, much of the shock and outrage has missed the point. Ward’s offence, it would appear, was to have repeatedly blamed ‘the Jews’ for failing to learn the lessons of the Holocaust and inflicting atrocities upon the Palestinians. Apparently – as even the Sky interviewer seemed at one point to imply-- if he had blamed ‘the Israelis’ there wouldn’t have been a problem.
This is not just to fail to grasp the real obscenity of Ward’s comments, but to reveal that many of those expressing revulsion at his comments actually suffer from the same prejudice.
For the really terrible thing here is not the grotesque misuse of the Holocaust, nor the vicious suggestion that ‘the Jews’ are guilty of behaviour that is somehow analogous to the Nazi genocide inflicted upon them, nor even the sickening insult that they have to ‘learn the lessons’ of their own suffering.
No, the true venom of these remarks is the way they reverse the position of today’s Jewish victims – the Israeli survivors of the Holocaust and their children and grandchildren -- and their current would-be exterminators – the descendants of Hitler’s Nazi collaborators in Palestine during the Holocaust.
For the fact is that Israel is not trying to exterminate the Palestinians – indeed how could this possibly be the case, since the Palestinian population has more than quadrupled since the rebirth of Israel in 1948. Nor are the Israelis oppressing the Palestinians, who have benefited from some of the highest rises in GDP and lowest child mortality ratios in the Middle East.
Nor are the Israelis behaving inhumanely; it is the Palestinians who are committing crimes against humanity by targeting Israeli innocents for mass murder without remission, both from Gaza and from the West Bank. It is the Palestinians, in the West Bank as well as Gaza, who are brainwashed from the cradle to hate Jews and to believe that murdering Israelis is their highest glory. Which they have been doing in Israel and before that in Palestine for more than a century – despite the fact that, as the international community laid down in binding treaty in 1920, the Jews alone had the inalienable and historic right to settle throughout Palestine, including not just present-day Israel but also the West Bank and Gaza.
Moreover, while the Jews accepted proposals for a Palestinian state first made in the 1930s and then in 1947, and while the Israelis offered them more than 95 per cent of the possible land for a state in 2000 and 2008, the Palestinians responded merely by murdering more Jews.
Despite all this, Israel behaves towards its genocidal Palestinian attackers with a humanity that is seen in no other conflict on the planet. Despite the rocket attacks and constant smuggling of ever more fearsome weapons to be aimed at its civilians, it allows humanitarian supplies into Gaza; despite the constant plotting in the West Bank to kill more Israelis, it allows Palestinians to work in Israel, and treats Palestinians from both the West Bank and Gaza alongside Israelis in Israeli hospitals. Yes of course there is Palestinian hardship caused by the checkpoints and security barrier. But the only reason these exist is to prevent Palestinians killing yet more Israelis. If the Palestinians and their Arab and Iranian backers stopped trying to wipe Israel off the map, there would be peace tomorrow.
The really appalling thing about Ward’s remarks is his hijacking of the Holocaust to reverse the position of Arab aggressors and their Jewish victims. But he also goes further than accusing Israel of such crimes in the West Bank and Gaza. He accuses it of
‘inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel.’
The really chilling thing is this. Leave aside Ward’s particular offensiveness and idiocies. The insane belief that Israel is trying to wipe out the Palestinians or at the very least that it behaves savagely towards them, subjects them to ‘apartheid’ and ensures through its behaviour that there is no peace in the Middle East is now common currency in British progressive circles. While most would not use the Holocaust analogy and are careful to damn Israelis rather than ‘the Jews’, the entirely false belief that the Israelis have supplanted the indigenous people of Palestine and towards whom they are now behaving in an unconscionable way is now the default position amongst liberals and the left, and has also made serious inroads amongst the more isolationist and ignorant British conservatives.
The belief that, in Israel, the victims of one of the greatest crimes against humanity are themselves now guilty of crimes against humanity is the collective libel that has become the default position amongst the British intelligentsia. And as Ward suggested in his remarks on Sky, only those Jews who themselves endorse this libel by denouncing Israel are to be considered free of this taint. British Jews who support Israel and try to counter these Big Lies are quite simply treated as pariahs by baying mobs whose obsession with Israel has brought about nothing less than a mass derangement in British public debate.
The full, monstrous obscenity of both Ward’s remarks and the widespread British attitude to which he has given voice is no less than this: accusing the people who were the victims of genocide entirely falsely of committing crimes against humanity -- simply because they are trying to defend themselves from being wiped out again by those for whom the Holocaust is unfinished business. Self-defence against extermination is now considered a crime against humanity.
David Ward may have been particularly clumsy – but he has merely given voice to Britain’s national sickness and shame.
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