Guardian readers commemorate the Holocaust in their own special way

h/t to the ‘global network’ of CiF Watchers

A commendable essay by Hila Shachar was published at ‘Comment is Free’ yesterday (Jan. 27) titled ‘The Holocaust is not your metaphor to use in modern political debates – one in a series of appropriate articles which appeared in the Guardian on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorated annually on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Here’s an excerpt from the essay:

In thinking about what it actually means to honour the victims, I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the best ways to do this is to continue reminding ourselves that those victims were individual human beings. This should seem obvious, right? And yet, the victims of the Holocaust continue to be appropriated as political metaphors and dehumanised in the process.

Specific examples can be both well-meaning or purposefully disrespectful. Take the animal rights group PETA, which is known for its insensitive shock tactics when it comes to its marketing. In 2004, the group created the Holocaust on your plate campaign, using images of emaciated victims of Nazi concentration camps and comparing meat-eaters and those working in the meat-production industry to Nazis. I hope I don’t need to explain why this is wrong. But as I’ve been watching Facebook and Twitter conversations about the Tony Abbott government’s treatment of refugees degenerate into comparisons with the Nazis, I have to wonder if perhaps I do.

Recently, I came across this Facebook post that uses an image of a child who was killed in Auschwitz next to an image of a baby who was born in Christmas Island detention centre. It’s highly emotive and also, in my view, highly unethical. Using images of those who were killed by the Nazis to make a point about the Australian government’s policies is demeaning to those who died. It is essentially saying that their deaths are not to be remembered for their own sake, but rather because they are useful tools as points of reference and comparison in contemporary political debate. It turns Holocaust victims and survivors into concepts, decontexualised imagery and generalisations, and erases their individuality as human beings – even when the intentions behind it are sincere and well-meaning.

As part of our mission, we often monitor reader comments below the line of ‘CiF’ essays to see if moderators promptly remove antisemitic commentary (consistent with their own stated ‘community standards) and, more generally, to get a barometer of the hate often elicited by any Guardian or ‘CiF’ entry which focuses on Jews or Israel.  Here are just a few samples of the less than enlightened reader responses to Shachar’s essay:

Israel-Nazi comparison: 36 ‘Recommends’ and NOT deleted by ‘CiF’ moderators:

oneIsrael-Nazi analogy:

oneIsrael-Nazi analogy:

one

Jewish conspiracy/general antisemitism

oneDavid Ward, MP?

oneInevitable “Zionist Lobby” comment:

one

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Guardian travel tip – a 2-for-1 opportunity for the “Guardian Community”

A guest post by AKUS

This little travel tip popped up alongside an article on the Guardian’s website.

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Yes – if Auschwitz if not enough for one day – visit the fabulous salt-mines nearby for extra value! Make sure to send this great travel tip to all your friends:

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After overcoming my uneasy feeling at the casual juxtaposition of these two tours, and the advertising pitch urging you to save by enjoying both in one package, a quick search on Google turned up numerous similar offers. There is apparently a thriving tourist business in and around Krakow (with several companies like Krakow Discovery competing for the tourist Euro) offering tours with experienced drivers to make sure no-one gets left at Auschwitz and, it seems, a low-cost way to overcome the impact of the concentration camp experience by viewing the famous salt mine, a UNESCO Heritage site in one day at one low price.

This is a strange example of “the banality of evil” – who in Auschwitz could have imagined that their death camp would one day be coupled with a money-saving offer to visit a famous underground World Heritage Site? What is next – a money-saving day trip to a Rwandan massacre site coupled with a safari, with experienced drivers?

But perhaps the Guardian should be a little more selective in allowing its readers to offer such ‘exciting’ and ‘valuable’ opportunities to its “community”?

Guardian readers, and Holocausts real and imagined

A guest post by AKUS

The Guardian’s attempt to provide a thoughtful and appropriate article about a praiseworthy attempt by UK footballers to provide schools with a serious and sensitive Holocaust educational film documenting what they learned from a trip to Auschwitz (‘England’s football stars feature in Holocaust educational video film for schools, Jan. 14), was quickly hijacked, as we noted earlier, by Holocaust deniers.

The first comment on the thread was a plea that the footballers’ efforts (and, presumably, reader comments) not be hijacked to demand “equal time” for other atrocities:

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Despite SantaMoniker’s plea anticipating what was to follow, in addition to the subsequent Holocaust denial comments CiF Watch captured which were eventually deleted, for one person simply denying the Holocaust wasn’t not enough. He demanded (comment now deleted) that the educational authorities invent a new one to provide some balance to the murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazis.

Yes – if English children are to learn about the Holocaust that actually happened, at least one reader, whose comment garnered recommendations, demanded that they learn about the non-existent Palestinian Holocaust.

2For this commenter, and those recommending his comment, as part of the campaign against Israel it is necessary to create a myth about a Palestinian history to reinforce the lethal narrative that the Jews, “who should know better”, have killed millions of Palestinians.

Visiting the thread now, about 12:40 pm UK time, the moderators have removed most of the presumably inappropriate comments. But the striking lack of empathy remains at least in this one, the last at the time this is written, which has been there for over an hour:

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Apparently for some people it will remain a mystery why “the jews will bang on forever about their persecution, because they are under the impression no one as suffered like they have”.  For some it is too difficult to comprehend that this mass murder was so horrific that the special term “Holocaust” had to be created to refer to it and in which modern technology was used to eliminate an entire people by killing as many as 6 million of them – and why the annoying survivors keep “banging on about it”.

It is also worth noting that while holocaust-denying comments remained on the thread for hours, beneath Rachel Shabi’s tendentious and morally pretentious commentary alleging Islamophobia by the “the power-brokers of Hollywood”, comments which didn’t abide by the Guardian Left script were quickly deleted.

The appearance of both articles on the same day, and the totally different level of comment moderation, demonstrates the bias of Guardian editors and those they employ to moderate the threads.