Hate emerges from beneath the surface: Antisemitism in the UK (July 2014)

Cross posted from The CST

July 2014 now joins January 2009 as a month when war between Israel and Hamas caused antisemitism to spew forth across Britain. If this latest round of Middle East violence has now ended, then we may expect the antisemitism to gradually diminish: but this hatred has again been revealed, even if most of the time it lies beneath the surface. Are British Jews (and those elsewhere) to be forever held hostage to a seemingly intractable conflict in which totalitarian Jihadists are sworn to destroy Israel at whatever cost?

Members of the public expressing fears and concerns to CST have referenced this in different ways. One said she felt “stuck in a swamp“. Another said that the hatred had come from “ordinary people, not what or who we expect it from…its the underlying antisemitism, and now that they’ve put it out there, how are we supposed to put it back?“. It may sound trite to speak of Jews defriending others on Facebook, but anecdotally, this seems to be happening again and again, with Jews deeply upset by what this conflict has revealed about those whom they believed to be their friends (in all meanings of the word).

Bare statistics do not, cannot, explain the emotion that many people are feeling right now: but they are stark. CST has now recorded over 200 antisemitic incidents for July 2014, making it very clearly the second worst month we have seen since our records began in 1984. (The worst was Jan’ 2009, when 288 incidents were recorded. The second worst was Feb’ 2009, with 114 incidents.) The July 2014 total is not yet finalised, because it takes time to properly analyse and categorise all of the reports reaching us from throughout Britain right now, so the figure of 200 is an absolute minimum.

Of course, antisemitic incidents occur every day, week and month of the year. CST recorded 304 between January and June 2014 (a rise of 36% from 2013). We now have over 200 in one month, so the maths are clear. Not every July incident relates to the Israel-Hamas conflict, but the majority do. Without listing every one of them, it is almost impossible to convey the scale and the impact of the invective, but each and every incident involves at least one victim and at least one perpetrator. They come randomly at Jews and Jewish locations throughout the country. Many of them appear to be perpetrated by Muslim youth and adults, but by no means all. That this racism is perpetrated in the name of human rights (for Palestinians) is bizarre, but nothing new: although it does help explain the deafening silence from the self-titled anti-racism movement. (Hope not Hate does not fit this category and is a strong exception.)

The hatred is showing clear trends. Shouting “Free Gaza” on a pro-Palestinian demonstration is not antisemitic: but obviously is when yelled at a random Jew in the street, or when daubed on a synagogue wall.  The same goes for screams of “child murderer”, shouted at Jews or pinned on a synagogue. Then, there is the ever present antisemitic fixation with Nazism. This comes two ways, Jews being told that they are the new Nazis, or Jews being told that “Hitler was right” (a phrase that trended on Twitter).

Child murderer has a long history in antisemitism, almost 2,000 years longer than Nazism does. The accusation of Jews having killed Jesus, the embodiment of innocence, moved into medieval blood libels. Some Jews perceive sections of the UK media as having focussed to such an extent upon Gazan child victims in this latest conflict that it somehow indicates that these blood libels still lurk somewhere deep. Others would counter that this kind of ‘unconscious antisemitism’ argument is ridiculous and that the media could not focus upon dead and injured children if they did not actually exist, nor in such numbers. The fact remains: British Jews are being called child-murderers.

The Nazi slanders and threats are not in mainstream media, but the question ‘why didn’t Jews / Israel learn the lessons of the Holocaust?’ has been. This is surely repellent to the overwhelming majority of Jews. It comes posed as a question, but really it is a demand. Whatever its motivation, it smells of Jew-Israel-Nazi equivalence and ‘we are holier than thou’.

The super-heated arguments of how the media covers Israel are not strictly CST’s business; and neither are boycotts of Israel. Nevertheless, it is impossible to discuss how Jews feel right now without noting how both things impact upon antisemitism, upon how Jews are perceived and how Jews themselves feel.

One need not be a dyed in the wool defender of Israel, nor even a Zionist, to suspect that no other country on earth appears to evoke such passion and hatred. We need not cite Syria right now, nor Sri Lanka in 2009, because Britain itself has killed civilians in the Middle East in recent years, children included. Yet it is only one section of British society that is called “child-murderers”, or “Nazis”, or is told that Hitler should have wiped them all out.

Less rhetorically, we must note that antisemitic incidents will subside along with the images on people’s television screens, but the long term damage to Jews of anti-Israel boycotts will persist. Dry statistics help us to measure the raw impact of this. If someone engages in “criticism of Israel” then 6% of British Jews consider that person “definitely antisemitic” and 27% answer “probably antisemitic”. If that person supports a boycott of Israel, then 34% of British Jews consider them “definitely antisemitic” and 33% “probably antisemitic”. So, boycott of Israel is a tipping point for most Jews in regarding criticism as being antisemitic or not. One consequence of this latest Israel-Hamas war will be a lot more boycotts, either through choice (such as trade unions and cultural venues) or through intimidation (such as commercial outlets). Just as Israel is being singled out for scrutiny and boycott, so many Jews are going to feel the same way.

When the Jewish Film Festival is given a ‘ditch your Israeli Embassy link’ ultimatum by the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, it betrays how British Jews’ connections to Israel are the measure by which others judge them. The same applies to the National Union of Students decision to boycott Israel, which promises no end of trouble and intimidation for Jewish students. Then, there are the mass intimidations of supermarkets that dare to sell Israeli goods, some of which have actually been forced to briefly stop trading as a result. (As cheerfully relayed here by a Labour MP.)

Finally, two antisemitic incidents out of over two hundred, giving the merest hint of recent events. The first speaks volumes of how Jews risk being expected to behave: and the reactions they risk upon refusal.

1. Street in Bradford, evening of 26th July. A Jewish man and his wife were driving when they became caught in slow moving traffic due to an accident up the road. Every car in the queue was being stopped by a group of apparently Muslim men and women, carrying buckets and asking for money for Gaza. The Jewish man politely declined to donate, whereupon “you f**king Jewish bastard!” was shouted at him. Then, another man used a loudhailer to also shout “you f**king Jewish bastard!” at him. Next, “Jewish bastard coming down the road!” was shouted down the street to alert each of the other collectors.

2. Synagogue in Hove, 2nd August (photo by F.Sharpe)

Hove shul

 

Protesting Palestine, targeting Jews

Cross posted from The CST

CST wrote last week about the danger of anti-Israel protests in the UK involving or encouraging antisemitism, either by targeting British Jews or by featuring antisemitic language and imagery.

Since then, several more examples of antisemitic incidents and other activity in relation to anti-Israel protests have been reported to CST:

  • Demonstrators on a march through central London assaulted and verbally abused a Jewish woman who expressed her support for Israel as they walked past. Marchers surrounded her, called her a “Jew Zionist” and stole her phone. Later the same afternoon, demonstrators from the same march verbally abused another Jewish woman who was with her two young children, telling them to “Burn in hell.”
  • A pro-Israel demonstrator at a rally in central London was knocked unconscious by a group of assailants who were part of a counter-protest. While it is not believed that anything antisemitic was said, this level of violence from pro-Palestinian protestors is a worrying development.
  • A Rabbi walking in north London was verbally abused by a group of youths who shouted “Free Palestine”, “F*** the Zionists”, “F*** the Jews” and “Allah Akhbar.”
  • A brick was thrown at the window of a synagogue in Belfast.
  • “Baby murderers” was shouted at a synagogue in Liverpool.
  • A pro-Israel organisation in London received a telephoned bomb threat.
  • A visibly Jewish boy was cycling in north London when a woman wearing a black niqab threw a stone at him, hitting him on the head.

These are just a handful of over 70 antisemitic incidents reported to CST since the beginning of July. This is roughly double the number we would expect to be reported during this period under ‘normal’ circumstances. Approximately ten of these incidents have involved violence. Approximately 14 have involved the use of social media.

Roughly two-thirds of the incidents reported since 1 July have been related to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza, and the number of incidents reported to CST has escalated since the beginning of Israel’s operation in Gaza on 8 July.

Another disturbing factor is that the proportion of antisemitic incident perpetrators described to CST as being of south Asian appearance has been much higher during this period than is normally the case. Antisemitism in Muslim communities is something that others have written about before; the incidents reported to CST suggest that it is playing a significant role in the high level of antisemitic incidents currently being reported. In these circumstances, last week’s statement from the Muslim Council of Britain warning against such behaviour was most welcome.

There have also been several examples of antisemitic incitement on anti-Israel demonstrations and on social media since the conflict between Israel and Gaza began. Last week the hashtag #HitlerWasRight trended on Twitter worldwide. One protestor took this theme onto an anti-Israel demonstration in London:

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It should be noted that the antisemitic incidents recorded by CST since 1 July do not include antisemitic placards or chants on demonstrations.

Other protestors have used Nazi imagery to abuse Israel:

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Comparing Israel to Nazi Germany is antisemitic. It abuses the memory of Holocaust victims and offends contemporary Jews. It attacks Israel on the basis of its Jewishness. It should have no part in pro-Palestinian campaigning.

This flag commits the same offence, and compounds it by using a Star of David next to the phrase “Baby Killers”. The Star of David is a Jewish symbol. It is found on the Israeli flag, but it is also found on synagogues all over the UK. To use it in the manner it is displayed on this flag risks inciting hatred against British Jews.

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This incitement has also been seen on social media. This cartoon is from the Facebook page of UK Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Taji Mustafa. it evokes the antisemitic blood libel, in which Jews are accused of murdering non-Jewish children and consuming their blood in religious rituals. The Arabic on the knife reads “Arab silence”, but the person holding the knife bears a Star of David. The Stars and Stripes on the fork also suggests an antisemitic conspiracy theory regarding alleged Jewish control of America.

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CST has also received several reports of antisemitism on Twitter. These two tweets are clear examples of incitement against Jews in the Stamford Hill area of north London:

 

It has been suggested by some people that hate and abuse on social media is not as serious as other forms of hate crime and should not be included in hate crime statistics. We do not agree. Firstly, if a victim considers a tweet to be offensive or threatening enough to report it to CST, we will respect their feelings and their reaction to what they have seen. Secondly, if somebody shouts an antisemitic comment at a Jewish person in the street, it may only be heard by one person; if that same comment is put on Twitter, it can be seen by an unlimited number of people and it has a permanent record.

This pattern of antisemitic incidents in relation to the current conflict in Israel and Gaza is replicated in several countries around the world, most notably in France where Jewish shops and synagogues in Sarcelles were attacked last night. The antisemitic incidents and incitement seen in Britain over the past two weeks suggest that this danger is getting more, not less, acute. There should be zero tolerance within pro-Palestinian groups, and wider society, for anybody who targets Jews in word or deed.

Rankin: The apology

Cross posted from the blog of the CST

Yesterday’s CST blog (scroll below, or see here) covered allegations by the celebs’ photographer Rankin about movie stars running scared of the power of American “Jewish zealots“.

Today’s Telegraph carries an apology from Rankin:

In an interview that was set up with The Independent about the launch of [a fashion magazine], I regret responding so glibly to off-topic questions on such a difficult and sensitive subject. Of course this is not my official position and I apologise wholeheartedly for my use of language and any offence this may have caused.

The article includes this quote from CST:

It’s allegations about Jewish power over the media that distinguishes anti-Semitism from other forms of racism.

Rankin may well not be an anti-Semite, in which case he should learn not to spread the stink of antisemitic claims about Jews running the media and Hollywood.

The Independent, which carried the offensive claims, today published this letter from CST:

Your article about Scarlett Johansson (Rankin and a new take on why Scarlett quit Oxfam) and the supposed “power of a far right pro-lsrael lobby within the US” was redolent of openly antisemitic smears about Jews running Hollywood and the media.

Worse, the article relied upon quotes by the photographer Rankin that actually made no mention of “pro-Israel”. Instead, you quoted him saying “the Jewish zealots are so powerful” and “the main problem for me in all this is that kind of extreme Judaism”.

Rankin is as “a humanitarian”, so is no antisemite, but he seems to repeats antisemitic conspiracy theory. What a fitting snapshot of antisemitism today.

All of which should help to draw a line under this, but who would bet how much time will pass before a mainstream UK media outlet carries another such article, in one form or another. (The AIPAC conference starts on 2nd March, so anybody betting beyond that date will likely be on a loser.)

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Independent: Rankin’s snapshot of antisemitism today

Cross posted from the blog of the CST

[Yesterday’s] Independent carries an interview with celebrity photographer, Rankin. He inadvertently provides a brilliant snapshot of the paradox that underpins so much of today’s antisemitism.

Rankin speaks as “a humanitarian”, so presumably is no antisemite. Nevertheless, he repeats antisemitic conspiracy theory. That is the snapshot. It shows how modern (and old) antisemitism is about conspiracy theory, rather than race theory. As so often, the focus is against American Jews.

This is what it boils down to:

Jewish zealots…so powerful…kind of extreme Judaism…They will blacklist you…pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it…

Single names tend to denote Brazilian footballers, famous dead Russians, or really cool people – Rankin is the latter, a leading British photographer of fashionistas and luvvies.

Entitled “Rankin and a new take on why Scarlett quit Oxfam“, the Independent article by Jenn Selby quotes him as saying that Scarlett Johansson chose the Israeli company SodaStream over Oxfam because:

in America, the Jewish zealots are so powerful. Especially in the entertainment industry…what they could do to her career

Selby interviewed Rankin at length. In her article, she writes of his concerns, because apparently “the power of a far right pro-Israel lobby within the US makes it increasingly tough for creative artists to take the ethical high ground in favour of Palestinians“.

Actually, nowhere is Rankin actually quoted as saying “far right pro-Israel“. This appears to be Selby’s paraphrasing or interpretation of his remarks. Did the Independent notice this? Did Selby? It all shows how permeable the boundaries are. Rankin is also quoted as saying:

The main problem for me in all this is that kind of extreme Judaism.

What is this “kind of extreme Judaism“? He continues:

That extreme belief that this [ie Israel / Palestine] is their homeland and those people [ie Palestinians] are worthless to them. That’s very powerful in America. They will blacklist you. Its worse than McCarthyism. Are you pro-Palestinian? Forget it?

(The website version goes further than the print version, quoting, “You are pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it“.)

Of course, we can presume that Rankin is no antisemite. He tells us he is “fascinated from a humanitarian perspective” and is “just about human beings“. Nevertheless, here he is aping the blatant antisemitic smear about Jews running the media and Hollywood. It is all so typical of what Brendan O’Neill recently described as:

not a resurrection of old, explicitly racial fears of the Jews, but rather the mainstreaming of the [antisemitic] conspiratorial imagination

The antisemitic conspiratorial imagination is amplified by Rankin’s explanation of how this all supposedly works:

People have said to me that if you go to Palestine you will be put on a list and it doesn’t matter if you’re a humanitarian. You will be put on a list…I’m just about human beings.

Note the opener, “people have said to me…You will be put on a list“. And that is the conspiracy done.

Like all good photographers, Rankin has captured the essence of things.

Rankin names nobody. Not Steven Spielberg, not Aaron Sorkin and certainly not Woody Allen. Had he done so, perhaps the Independent’s lawyers would have stepped in on libel grounds. Instead, we can join the dots:

Jewish zealots…so powerful…kind of extreme Judaism…They will blacklist you…pro-Palestinian? F**king forget it…You will be put on a list.

Finally, it is deeply depressing to see this in the Independent. Any newspaper that regularly publishes Howard Jacobson’s stunning deconstructions and analyses of antisemitism cannot be simply dismissed as unknowing, far less as antisemitic. Similarly, its recent articles on French antisemite Dieudonne have been amongst the most impressive of any UK media outlet…and yet, it still photoshopped and published this repellent snapshot.

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Nicolas Anelka and Dieudonne: the quenelle is an antisemitic salute

Cross posted by Dave Rich from the blog of The CST

The quenelle salute given by West Brom striker Nicolas Anelka when he scored in their Premier League match on Saturday is an antisemitic gesture, and he should be punished accordingly by the FA.

In the Luis Suarez and John Terry cases the FA established the ‘zero tolerance’ principle, that a player’s intention does not excuse the use of racist language. The same principle must be applied in this case. Anelka says that he is not racist or antisemitic and that he did not intend his quenelle to have an antisemitic meaning, but this is beside the point:  just as the FA accepted that Luis Suarez is not a racist person while banning him for eight matches after he used racially abusive language towards Patrice Evra.

That the quenelle is antisemitic is beyond dispute. In France it has become part of a social media craze in which people find ever-more offensive places to insult Jews by doing a quenelle: this blogpost shows photographs of people performing quenelles at Auschwitz, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, at the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, outside synagogues and Jewish shops and at dozens of other Jewish sites. There is even a photograph of someone doing a quenelle outside the Ozar Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, where Mohammed Merah murdered three children and a teacher in March 2012:

 ob_43b6f7b494bb77257061d86e28388882_quenellemerah2

If the people in these photographs did a Nazi salute at any of these sites they would risk instant arrest and prosecution. The quenelle is a way of getting around the law, while still getting the same thrill of breaking the taboo against antisemitism.

The quenelle was invented by French comic Dieudonné Mbala Mbala. Anelka has excused his quenelle by saying that it was “just a special dedication to my comedian friend Dieudonné”; but this is no excuse, it just confirms the offence. Dieudonné has numerous convictions for antisemitism in France. One of these was for a sketch in which he gave a heroism award to French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson. The ‘comedy’ was that the award was presented by a man in a concentration camp uniform, complete with a yellow star.

Dieudonné claims that the quenelle is anti-establishment and anti-Zionist, not antisemitic. This is true, but also misleading – because Dieudonné believes that the establishment is run by “Zionists”. He told Iran’s Press TV:

The Zionist lobby … have taken France as hostage and we are in the hands of ignorant people, who know how to structure themselves into a mafia-like organisation and… have now taken over a country.

This is not the anti-Zionism of people who think that the Palestinians get a raw deal from Israel: it is the anti-Zionism of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, of a conspiracy theory that believes “the Jews pull all the strings”, as French extremism expert Jean-Yves Camus put it. (There is more background about Dieudonné’s political journey here).

It is also a political worldview that has led Dieudonné into a friendship with leaders of the far right Front National (FN). In 2006, Dieudonné attended the FN’s annual festival, and in 2008 veteran FN leader Jean Marie Le Pen became godfather to one of Dieudonné’s children.

Here is Le Pen (centre) with the FN’s Bruno Gollnisch (left) and friends, doing a quenelle:

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The quenelle was unknown in Britain before this weekend, but it has been at the centre of a public storm in France due to the viral spread of people doing it at Jewish sites and posting the photos on social media. Government ministers are talking of banning Dieudonné’s public appearances because they believe that he incites hatred of Jews and poses a threat to public order. Dieudonné denies this, but when Nicolas Anelka did his quenelle during a match that was broadcast live on French TV, he inserted himself into a race row in his home country – on the side of the alleged racist.

This does not mean that Anelka intended to make an antisemitic statement, or even that he understood the meaning of what he did: but now that the quenelle has entered British football, the FA need to set a clear precedent by acting swiftly and unequivocally to punish those who do it.

New CST report on antisemitic discourse in Britain slams the Guardian

The last time we posted about the annual report on antisemitic discourse in Britain by the Community Security Trust (the charity organisation advising British Jews on matters of security and antisemitism) we focused on the fact that the Guardian was singled out for opprobrium.  

cst 2011

In fact, CST devoted an entire section of their 21 page report to the Guardian, noting that “in 2011, the Guardian faced more accusations of antisemitism than any other mainstream UK newspaper.”  Specifically, CST focused on an article by Chris McGreal characterizing US government support for Israel as “slavish” and a widely condemned ‘chosen people‘ slur by columnist Deborah Orr.

(See CiF Watch’s commentary on McGreal’s “slavish” comment here and here, and our take on Deborah Orr’s ‘chosen people’ slur here and here.)

In the latest CST report on antisemitic discourse, released just today, the Guardian again was singled out.  

cst 2012

Specifically, the CST wrote the following:

The largest antisemitism-related controversy concerning mainstream media content in 2012 was a cartoon in the Guardian, by Steve Bell. This depicted Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary William Hague MP as glove puppets of the Israeli Prime Minister. Bell resolutely denied any antisemitic intent and the cartoon was not removed.

Steve Bell cartoon, Guardian. Nov. 15, 2012.

(See CiF Watch’s commentary on the Steve Bell cartoon, here and here.)

The CST report also singled out a ‘Comment is Free’ commentary by Juan Cole, and included the following:

An intervention by CST caused the Guardian Comment is Free website to partly amend an article that had echoed antisemitic charges of Jewish conspiracy and warmongering.

(See CiF Watch’s posts about the row here and here)

Also of note, Robert Fisk was singled out for making “a highly insulting allegation about people supposedly being called antisemitic Nazis for writing the “truth” about Israel.”

(CAMERA posts about Robert Fisk can be found here)

CST’s summary of their annual report is here, while you can see the full 36 page PDF here.

Why is a Swedish Jew filing for political asylum in her own country?

Last year we had the pleasure of interviewing a Swedish Jew (and Zionist activist) named Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, who recounted her experiences living in a country plagued by a dangerous rise in antisemitism.

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein speaks at a pro-Israel rally in Stockholm, September 2012. Courtesy Black on White.

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein speaks at a pro-Israel rally in Stockholm 2012. Courtesy Black on White.

As the recent poll on European antisemitism by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) confirmed, the already precarious situation for Sweden’s Jews has taken a turn for the worse, and Hernroth-Rothstein’s latest essay at Mosaic Magazine serves as an important personal story to add detail and nuance to the FRA data.

She writes:

Here in Stockholm this fall, we in the Jewish community have enjoyed our 21st annual Jewish film festival, a klezmer concert, and a number of other cultural diversions. I choose the word “diversions” advisedly. It’s thanks to such entertainments that so many of my fellow Jews can allow themselves to say that we’re doing okay here—that there’s no need to rock the boat or cause trouble.

But you know what? We are not okay, and this is not okay.

Kosher slaughter has been outlawed in my country since 1937, and a bill is now pending in parliament that would ban even the import and serving of kosher meat. Circumcision, another pillar of the Jewish faith, is likewise under threat. In my job as a political adviser to a Swedish party, I have dealt with two bills on this issue in the past year alone; a national ban is rapidly gaining political support in the parliament and among the Swedish public. When it comes to our religious traditions, those on both the Right and Left in Swedish politics find common ground; they take pride in defending both animals and children from the likes of us, and from what one politician has called our “barbaric practices.” 

Later, she provides a more personal glimpse into life for Swedish Jews.

In today’s Sweden, home to all of 20,000 Jews amidst a national population of some nine million, the public display of Jewish identity, like donning a kippah or wearing a Star of David pendant, puts an individual at severe risk of verbal harassment and, even worse, physical harm. Synagogues are so heavily guarded that Jewish tourists are turned away if they try to attend services unannounced. Inside the sanctuary, we celebrate our festivals and holy days under police protection. On the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah, during the five-minute walk to the water for the ceremony of tashlikh, my young son asked a guard why so many policemen were accompanying us. Replied the officer: “so that no bad people can hurt you.”

This is the self-image—the reality—that Jewish children in Sweden grow up with: being Jewish means being under threat of harm from bad people. This is where we are at.

You can read the rest of Hernroth-Rothstein’s story and learn why she is filing for political asylum in her own country, here.

We also encourage you to read her passionate letter titled ‘How to survive as a Jew in Sweden? Shut up and fade into the woodwork‘.

For context on the situation in Sweden, you can read CST commentaries on the FRA poll about European antisemitism here, here, here and here.

Cageprisoners, Rowntree Trust and “Jews did 9/11”.

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the blog of the Community Security Trust

The “Jews did 9/11″ lie says everything about the enduring nature and appeal of antisemitism in our modern world. It is a Big Lie that draws on a long and dangerous tradition of blaming Jews.

Usually, racism depicts its victims as primitive and inferior. This is where antisemitism is different. It depicts Jews as powerful and cunning, as if Jews are superior: rather than inferior. (Except in a moral sense that is. Antisemites always depict Jews as being morally inferior.)

The antisemitic mindset regards itself as the little guy, bravely exposing and opposing the fiendish might of concealed Jewish power.

Humans killed the son of G-d? Blame the Jews. Plague? Blame the Jews. Lost World War One? Blame the Jews. Losing World War Two? Blame the Jews. Twin Towers destroyed, facilitating a “War on Terror” charade against the Muslim world? Blame the Jews.

Now, an antisemitic anti-Zionist variant of “The Jews did 9/11” slander is on the website of Cageprisoners. It is not the straightforward (and widely believed) Hizbollah version, whereby 4,000 Jews were cunningly warned to throw a sickie on 9/11. Instead, it is an article claiming that 9/11 could be an insurance job involving so-called ”Zionist” billionaires. (For actual detail / content see the foot of this blog post.)

This article actually draws upon two antisemitic traditions. As well as the Big Lie of blaming Jews, we have the Jewish lightning slur: a snide little phrase meaning a fire that is deliberately set so the owner can falsely claim insurance. This term (which is not in the actual Cageprisoners article) associates Jews with money and fakery, so its ’logic’ is not so different to the thinking that underpins many antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Nevertheless, Cageprisoners is nothing like as fringe as one might expect. It is a British advocacy group that is given respect by mainstream media; and has, in six years, received £300,000 in grants (including  £255,000 “core costs” in 2008-2014) from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust. In 2010, it was at the centre of a controversy with Amnesty International. Cageprisoners Ltd describes itself as:

a human rights organisation (company registration no: 6397573) that exists solely to raise awareness of the plight of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and other detainees held as part of the War on Terror.

Until his overdue return to Jordan, one of Cageprisoners’ best known clients was the notorious Abu Qatada. CST Blog recently quoted UK legal documents citing Qatada in 1996 and 1999 advising British Muslim youth on the killing of Jews, including Jewish children. We also noted how this fact had been ignored by Victoria Brittain, on the Guardian website. For brevity, we did not say that Brittain’s awful Guardian apologia for Qatada was similar to another article she did for Cageprisoners.

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Blind-eyeing Qatada’s alleged antisemitic incitement to murder Jewish children is bad enough, but at least it fitted a larger picture of Brittain having ignored reams of other evidence against him. Now, we have Cageprisoners running an antisemitic anti-Zionist 9/11 conspiracy article. Perhaps they think it also fits a larger picture: standing up to the power of Jewish Zionists?

The article is by Kevin Barrett, an American who runs Truth Jihad Radio, talks of “Zio-Nazis” (here, disgracefully with United Nations Human Rights rapporteur Richard Falk), and seems determined to prove that no Muslim perpetrated 9/11.

Barrett’s article comes from the website of Iranian state broadcaster Press TV, where you can find numerous grotesque antisemitic articles (ranging from Holocaust denial to Jews run global narcotics).

Barrett’s article quotes heavily from another American, Christopher Bollyn, whose “islamic-intelligence” website is here (but please consider if you really wish to access it from your computer). On his site, Bollyn states:

I am currently working on the next chapter of Solving 9-11, “9-11 and the Elders of Zion.”

This chapter will focus on the secret Jewish network which is behind the crimes of 9-11 — and the cover-up — and the illegal wars of aggression in the Middle East.

…The fact that all of the key players in the sordid 9-11 saga are Zionist Jews has already been established and proven.

What needs to be proven and clarified is how the conspirators are connected in a secret criminal cabal. This will identify the true architects – and culprits – of the crime of the century.

…This chapter will do that by identifying the secret network which connects all the key players of 9-11. By exposing the connections between the main actors it can be proven that there is a secret Zionist brotherhood to which the terror architects of 9-11 all belong.

This is a plain example of antisemitic anti-Zionism, combining “Elders of Zion” (ie The Protocols), “secret Jewish network” and “secret criminal cabal”, with “Zionist Jews” and “secret Zionist brotherhood”.

Barrett’s article, on Cageprisoners website, does not use such obvious antisemitic terms as Bollyn. Instead, it talks throughout about Zionists and their money links. It is archetypal of an antisemitic slander that is dressed up in (extreme) anti-Zionist clothing for ease of sale.

But why would it appeal to Cageprisoners?

Cageprisoners’ basic narrative is that “the war on terror” is an excuse for America and Britain to terrorise the Muslim world; and many of those accused of Jihadist terrorism are innocent proof of the evil power of the US / UK secret state.

From this worldview, it is a relatively short step to believe that the entire “war on terror” charade is founded upon a lie, perpetrated by the same secret state that now exploits it for its own malign purpose. How seductive must it then be to allege that 9/11 itself was a foundation myth, perpetrated not by Jihadists, but rather by the usual suspects? After all, if you regard it as axiomatic that Zionists and Israel are an intimate – but concealed – component of the US / UK “war on terror”, then you are on the doorstep of all sorts of conspiracy tales about Jews, Zionists, Israel and the West.

Regardless of how Cageprisoners came to run Barrrett’s article, if 9/11 conspiracies are to be a new part of their victimhood narrative, then they will become an actively antisemitic organisation: rather than just another ‘pro-human rights’ UK institution that turns two blind eyes to antisemitism because it suits them to do so.

To conclude, some actual excerpts from Barrett’s article are shown below. His final sentence is especially striking:

In order to triumph, truth and justice will have to defeat the world’s wealthiest and most powerful criminal network.

Jews know what this is a reference to. Do Cageprisoners? Do they care? Do their funders and partners and co-publishers?

Barrett / Cageprisoners:

[World Trade Center owner] Silverstein engineered his purchase of the Trade Center through fellow Zionist billionaire Lewis Eisenberg

…As Christopher Bollyn wrote in 2002:

“Silverstein and Eisenberg have both held leadership positions with the United Jewish Appeal (UJA), a billion dollar Zionist ‘charity’ organization. Silverstein is a former chairman of the United Jewish Appeal-Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, Inc. This is an umbrella organization which raises hundreds of millions of dollars every year for its network of hundreds of member Zionist agencies in the United States and Israel.”

According to Ha’aretz, Silverstein is a close friend of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. They speak on the phone every weekend.

…The insurance companies have likewise neglected to mention that after doubling his insurance coverage immediately before 9/11, Silverstein re-doubled his winnings

…on the morning of 9/11, Silverstein and his daughter both failed to show up for their daily breakfast at Windows on the World restaurant atop the North Tower.

…Like Silverstein and Eisenberg, Hellerstein is a rabid Zionist with close ties to Israel. The judge’s son and sister both emigrated from the US to orthodox Zionist settlements in the Occupied Territories.

Investigative journalist Christopher Bollyn writes:

“Hellerstein’s son is an Israeli lawyer who emigrated to Israel in 2001 and whose law firm works for and with the Rothschild-funded Mossad company responsible for the 9-11 terror attacks.”

…Additionally, Bollyn writes, “Both Alvin Hellerstein and his son Joseph worked for the well-known Jewish law firm of Stroock, Stroock & Lavan before moving to the positions they now hold…Stroock, Stroock & Lavan played a key role in the setting up of 9-11…Stroock has a long history of representing the Rothschilds and other high-level Zionists.”

…In order to triumph, truth and justice will have to defeat the world’s wealthiest and most powerful criminal network.

Abu Qatada: a lesson for British Jews

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the CST

Finally, Abu Qatada is back in Jordan, facing questioning about terrorism. The extradition has been a lengthy legal saga, summarised by headlines such as “hate preacher” and “send him back”.

The Guardian Comment is Free website has two articles on Britain’s handling of Abu Qatada. The first of these, by Victoria Brittain, is simply a blanket defence of him. The second, by Simon Jenkins, is far more ambiguous. Neither article details Abu Qatada’s actual UK activities in the 1990s and early 2000s, such as his links to British Muslims who later became terrorists, or his links and financing with overseas “mujahideen”: despite these facts being well-known and having appeared in Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) judgements.

The SIAC evidence is extensive. The 2007 judgement reads like a 1990′s and early 2000′s who’s who of the global jihad movement. Section 84 is one of its more succinct paragraphs:

In short, his views are to be found linked to many terrorist groups and their actions, providing the religious cover they seek; he propagates radicalising views, and his fund-raising is aimed at advancing the Islamist extremist cause.

The SIAC judgements also reference Abu Qatada’s incitement for the murdering of British Jews (from 2007, section 28):

…even in December 1996, the Appellant was already proclaiming that it was acceptable to fight Jews within the UK.

Similarly, section 31, but now with Jewish children clarified as legitimate targets. Britons and Americans are also added (presumably this also includes British and American children):

In October 1999, the Appellant made a speech at the Four Feathers mosque [in Marylebone, London] in which he effectively issued a fatwa authorising the killing of Jews, including Jewish children.  He told the congregation that Americans should be attacked wherever they were, that in his view they were no better than Jews and that there was no difference between English, Jews and Americans.

The Guardian coverage is important because it shows how some liberal-left opinion makers and activists are blinding themselves (and others) to the realities of extremism. British Jews have long despaired at the failure of such people to acknowledge antisemitism when it comes from Arab or Muslim sources, but this coverage of Abu Qatada shows that selective blindness to antisemitism is only part of a wider failing.

For British Jews, the lesson is obvious. If these people are even soft on Abu Qatada, then we should expect absolutely nothing from them regarding any overseas hatred or incitement: whether that is Hizbollah terrorism against Diaspora Jews, Hamas terrorism against Israel, the appalling overall levels of antisemitic attitudes and hate speech, or visits by overseas preachers to the UK.

To return specifically to these two Guardian articles, Victoria Brittain’s is by far the more obviously ridiculous. It’s title is a classic of the genre:

I know Abu Qatada – he’s no terrorist

Usually, it is the Guardian sub-editors who choose how to entitle articles, based upon their reading of them. So, Victoria Brittain may not have actually called it this. Her article lauds Abu Qatada as “a scholar with wide intellectual and cultural interests. He wrote books while in prison”. He phones his kids from prison to encourage their homework etc, but Brittain does not explicitly say that Abu Qatada is no terrorist. Instead, it is Qatada’s family that is “innocent” and:

No one suggests Othman [ie Qatada] is physically dangerous himself.

Which may even be true, but it completely ducks the central allegation that he encourages many others whom we might describe as “physically dangerous”. 

Brittain also says, “no one has pointed to anything controversial that he is alleged to have said since the mid-1990s”. Perhaps Brittain does not regard the 1999 example of incitement to killing Jews (including their children and Britons and Americans) as controversial. She also says that the security services should have followed her lead:

If instead they had chosen to talk to him, as I have many times, they would have found that the man behind the myth is a scholar…I believe that, rather than being scapegaoted, his moral standards could have been useful in engaging Muslim youth.

British Jews should be deeply thankful that Muslim youth are no longer exposed to Abu Qatada’s “moral standards”. Besides, the security services did, repeatedly, speak to Abu Qatada. SIAC states (2007, section 29) that he:

…warned his congregation to be wary of MI5’s approaches and provided them with physical descriptions and names of MI5 officers approaching Muslims.

So much for Victoria Brittain, but is such a person really someone whom British Jews (and others) should take seriously? Sadly, almost unbelievably, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Brittain was associate foreign editor of the Guardian, is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and offered £10,000 surety money for Sheikh Ra’ed Salah.

CST believed Sheikh Salah had preached a sermon in Jerusalem that included a blood libel, alleging that Jews need the blood of non-Jews for “holy bread”. CST supported the Home Secretary’s ban on him. The ban was condemned by the Guardian, which also misrepresented Jewish and Home Office concerns and actions. Salah eventually won his appeal, despite being found to have made the blood libel speech (see ruling pdf here, section 59). The Guardian’s defence of him never relented and they never did acknowledge the blood libel ruling (see CST pdf here, p.18-22).

If Brittain defends Abu Qatada, then is it any wonder she defended the far less clear-cut case of Salah? Ditto the comments pages of the Guardian.

The Guardian’s other comment piece on Abu Qatada is by one of its senior regular writers, Simon Jenkins. Chairman of the National Trust, former editor of the Times and Evening Standard, he is somewhat more establishment than Victoria Brittain.

Jenkins’ article differs markedly from Brittain’s piece, but is another important marker in how Qatada is viewed, and what we can therefore expect regarding all those other cases that are far less clear-cut. His position starts out promisingly enough:

The state is entitled to deport people it considers a threat…I have no problem in sending home people in the category of Abu Qatada, who arrived on false documents, became an ally and counsellor to terrorists and then cited fear of torture as a reason for not being deported…

However, it then turns very lazy:

That said, Abu Qatada by all accounts does not fall into the ranting cleric category of his contemporary, Abu Hamza. He is closer to the vagrant revolutionary tradition to which London has offered refuge throughout history. The city should be big enough to encompass him, even if his activities merited watching…

Jenkins knows enough to realise that the charges against Abu Qatada are extensive, but ultimately he seems to be simply failing to take Abu Qatada seriously. Whatever the cause of this ambivalence, it is yet another reason why British Jews can have no confidence in such circles to safeguard their wellbeing; and the rest of society ought to feel exactly the same.

Finally, for light relief, compare Victoria Brittain’s “He’s no terrorist” schtick with this brief Simpson’s excerpt below.

Is the Guardian awol at #AIPAC2013?

Last year, the Guardian’s Chris McGreal, their Washington correspondent (previously assigned to Jerusalem) who was singled out by the CST in their 2011 report on antisemitic discourse in the UK, covered the annual AIPAC conference, published several reports and tweeted his contempt for the ‘power’ of the pro-Israel lobby with abandon.

Here’s one of his tweets:

Here’s one of his retweets:

This year, however, there has been no sign of the Guardian’s journalistic/activist footprint at the 2013 AIPAC Conference in Washington.  (McGreal is still reporting on US politics, but now appears to be stationed in Portland, Oregon. However, a quick glimpse at his Tweets indicate he still has Israel on his mind.)

I’ve scoured the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’ and couldn’t find a thing. I placed “AIPAC” in their search engine and came up with seven hits for January, but nothing since Jan. 20 – a piece by Harriet Sherwood.

One possibly complicating factor may be the fact that Glenn Greenwald, one of those who, even by Guardian standards, most acutely suffers from Israel-lobby-phobia, is on vacation.  Similarly, Harriet Sherwood appears to have been away from her desk, as she hasn’t published since Feb. 17.

The conference, which began on March 3, ends tomorrow so it’s possible there’s something in the works but, given the Guardian’s fixation on Jewish power, it’s surprising they’ve been silent until now.

If any of our fellow ‘hasbarafia’ friends see any sign of the Guardian at the ‘Zionist Lair’ in DC, in the social media (or anywhere in print or online), please let us know.

David Ward’s Bulldozer

The following was written by Mark Gardner at the blog of the CST

David Ward

David Ward

Old friends and (new) foes have advised David Ward MP that he is in a hole and really should stop digging. (For background, see here and here.) Unfortunately, whoever runs his website disagrees, and has posted an article that renders Ward unfit to serve as a Member of Parliament for so long as it remains there.

With this new article, Ward has swapped his spade for a bulldozer.

The article is entitled, “Guardian continues the hounding of David Ward”. It exemplifies the type of loose – and therefore dangerous and highly offensive – language about Jews, Israel and the Holocaust that got Ward exactly where he is today.

Having posted this, it is clear that David Ward and his constituency team neither understand the power of words, nor the importance of precision of language. They most certainly underestimate its importance in the context of dealing with Jews and in relation to racism. So it is fitting, and somewhat sad, that the article is itself a counterattack on a recent Guardian interview with Ward, headlined “David Ward: ‘The solid ground I stand on is that I am not a racist’ ”.

The interview, by Aida Edemariam, criticises Ward for not understanding why he caused offence with his Jews-Holocaust-Israel-Palestinians linkage, but it does seem to afford him every opportunity to state his case and quotes him at length. It is well worth reading, but outraged John Hilley who wrote about it on his (ill-termed) Zenpolitics website. This is the article that is now on Ward’s website, where it resides under Ward’s name and the logo of the Liberal Democrat Party.

Hilley begins by reminding us what Ward originally said about “the Jews” having suffered in the Holocaust and then “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians”. He acknowledges that Ward’s wording was poor, but states that the outrage about it is somehow artificial: 

whatever lack of qualification or carelessness in his words, were we really to believe that Ward meant or implied that all Jews were/are responsible for Israel’s repressions and occupation?

To which the answer, for most of us, would be a resounding “yes”. When someone says “the Jews”, we take that to mean “the Jews”. Indeed, isn’t that the standard defence of every anti-Zionist who has ever been accused of antisemitism? “Errr…I didn’t say ‘the Jews’, I was clearly only talking about Ariel Sharon / the IDF / Israelis / Zionists / George Bush / the Board of Deputies of British Jews…”.

Building from this self-serving deceit, the article vilifies those who have taken issue with Ward’s Jews-Holocaust-Israel-Palestinians construct. It includes these misrepresentations of complaints:

the expected criticism from outraged Zionists…

Edemariam like all Ward’s detractors, really knows what he meant…

his [Ward’s] meaning is likely to have been well understood…

Ward’s real ‘mistake’, as far as the Zionist lobby and many liberal commentariat are concerned – and as his Liberal colleague Jenny Tongue also found out to her cost – was to criticise Israel at all…

Those, like David Ward, who courageously speak in any kind of similar vein – despite his subsequent corrections – are, as usual, pilloried for being anti-Semitic and hounded by liberal media types for not subscribing to the template Zionist narrative…

There is a small mercy in that the article’s insistence that Ward did not mean “the Jews”, helps inoculate it against similar charges. Hilley clearly does not mean all “the Jews”, but this article still leaves the reader believing that any complainant is part of a conspiracy to silence all dissent on Israel, Zionism, or prevailing Holocaust narratives.

As Ward has previously put it and as positively cited again in this article:

Ward’s point about the “huge operation out there, a machine almost, which is designed to protect the state of Israel from criticism” also applies to this kind of liberal baiting.

(“Liberal baiting” is a reference to the Guardian interviewer, Aida Edemariam. The news that the Guardian is also somehow in on this alleged conspiracy to silence Ward, Tonge and their ilk, may surprise those who have followed debates about ‘the new antisemitism’ in recent decades.)

Despite all this, the article’s primary thrust tries to reinforce Ward’s post-facto rationalisation of his behaviour in the controversy thus far: the notion that he is bravely trying to kick-start an urgent debate on how the Holocaust impacted upon the subsequent actions of Israel and/or Zionists (but not “the Jews” – or at least not those Jews who kept out of it all).

Now we are no longer talking about the offence caused by stupid routine accusations about all criticism of Israel being falsely jumped on as antisemitism; or the even sillier (and far more original) idea that the Guardian is now in on the act. Instead, we are back to talking about the Holocaust. We are back to the original cause of the outrage against Ward.  You might, therefore, expect the language to now, at long last, be careful and precise, empathetic even towards those who were so upset. Sadly, this is not the case:

Nor was Ward linking the Holocaust and the Occupation by comparing or equating them as “categories”. He was linking them in the obvious sense that the Holocaust was used as a part of the Zionist agenda for occupying another people’s land…

Indeed, how dare Zionists not ignore the near genocide of European Jewry, but to move on, Ward’s insistence that he was not equating “the Holocaust and the Occupation…as ‘categories’” has been central to his defence since day one of this squalid controversy. Bizarrrely, having just stated the above, Hilley then bulldozes under both his and Ward’s position, writing:

And if Edemariam really does believe after sixty years of ethnic cleansing, mass IDF murder, settler takeovers, apartheid transfer policies and the continued prison camp siege of Gaza that Israel “is not setting out to annihilate [the Palestinian] people”, perhaps she is the one who should be more carefully considering her incendiary language.

In the space of two small paragraphs, Hilley has gone from saying that the Holocaust is obviously not the same as “occupying another people’s land” to outrage that Ward’s interviewer has denied Israel “is not setting out to annihilate the Palestinian people”.

To be precise, “setting out to annihilate” is not the same as perpetrating an annihilation / Holocaust, but to the man on the Clapham (or Bradford East) omnibus, there will be little difference. Then, there is the seriousness of what Hilley’s angry denial of Edemariam’s words implies – that Israel is actually setting out to annihilate the Palestinian people, as the Nazis set out to annihilate the Jews.

If this is to be Ward’s chosen category comparison / equation, then he has no place continuing as an MP.   

Hilley’s article is not yet done. It has “a rather basic set of sequential things to restate”. Bullet points follow, beginning with an accurate description and full condemnation of the Holocaust against “the Jews”. Nevertheless, the centrality of antisemitism and the Holocaust to Nazi ideology is undersold by the next point:

  • “It was part of a systematic purge on any community, Jews, Gypsies, Communists, deemed inferior or/and a threat to Nazi ideology and power.”

The article continues:

  • Anyone who seeks to deny or misconstrue these basic facts is either peddling lies, misinformed  or uninterested in the truth”

More “basic facts” follow and again we are told that if you do not agree with them then you are either a liar or a fool. They include:

  • “The Holocaust formed a central ideological, political and militarist agenda in the Zionist formulation and creation of a Jewish state.”

If anything, this goes even further than the earlier mention of the Holocaust and “the Zionist agenda”. Notwithstanding the first of Hilley’s points, it is as if the Holocaust has now been stripped of all meaning for Jews and reduced to some kind of deeper, more elemental truth about it being a Zionist tool. The bullet points continue, including:

  • “We cannot reasonably learn or understand anything about Palestinian suffering without referencing the Holocaust and the ways in which Zionism has used it to legitimise the Occupation.”

So, whilst the basic reasons as to how and why the Holocaust might feed into Jewish support for Zionism are dehumanised, the opposite must apply for Palestinian suffering. For now, let us just say that this is a striking double standard.

Then, Hilley cites Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein “whose own Jewish family were murdered in extermination camps…this has been turned into ideological propaganda through the Holocaust Industry”.

All of which feeds to the article’s conclusion about Ward’s “careless discrepancy” being maliciously used “to keep other journalists in a state of  cautious apprehension about discussing the Holocaust in relation to the Occupation…[this] personalised hatchet-job does exactly what the Zionist lobby and self-protecting editors want in keeping all that prudently off-limits”.

Let us be clear, an article such as Hilley’s is not exceptional within proper anti-Zionist and anti-Israel circles. Its weird claim that “Jews” really means “Zionists” or “Israelis” repeats what we have previously heard from Caryl Churchill and Paul Foot, two wordsmiths beside whom Hilley and Ward pale into insignificance. Its claim that outrage over Ward’s spitting on Holocaust memory is proof that any and all criticism of Israel is falsely accused of antisemitism is merely routine; as is the coterminous accusation that such claims succeed in shutting up all criticism.

Even the idea that Israel wants to repeat what the Nazis did is not that unusual, with Holocaust Memorial Day fast become a lightning rod for this sickening, perverse claim. 

However, for all of this rubbish to be brought together in a single article on an MP’s website brings shame upon the Liberal Democrat Party, and upon Ward’s many decent colleagues who keep getting spattered with mud from these issues. So long as this article remains on David Ward MP’s website, he is unfit to serve as a Member of Parliament.

Genocide Abuse Day at the IHRC

Cross posted by Mark Gardner at the blog of the CST

With Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January) fast approaching, so does its annual bastardisation by our local pro-Iranian and pro-Hizbollah fans, the Islamic Human Rights Commission.

(See previous CST blog for IHRC’s role in London’s annual version of the Iranian-inspired anti-Israel hate festival, Quds Day, replete with Hizbollah assault rifle flags.)

Unlike the Iranian regime and its Press TV outlet, the Islamic Human Rights Commission is not so stupid or crass as to engage in outright denial that the Holocaust ever happened, but the group is still stuck between a rock and a hard place: how to acknowledge the reality of the Holocaust, without lending legitimacy to the most basic and blatant of arguments in favour of Zionism?

The far left have tackled this problem by keeping Jewish victimhood centre stage, whilst alleging that Zionists wanted the Holocaust and/or actually colluded with the Nazis to bring it about. They turn the moral tables on Zionism, by claiming that Zionists needed and desired and worked towards dead Jews in order to gain global sympathy for their enterprise.

The pro-Iranian IHRC, however, prefer the tactic of declaring a Genocide Memorial Day. This year it is subtitled  “Remembering Man’s Inhumanity to Man” and will be held on 20th January. The day’s title enables the IHRC to gently subsume the genocide of European Jewry under the sheer scale of man’s inhumanity to man. Challenge this as sophistry and you are forced into a somewhat nauseating comparative study in human suffering.

As a bonus ball, IHRC also get to define and blur the meanings of the word “genocide” and the phrase “man’s inhumanity to man”. So, they include Palestinian suffering and seamlessly move Palestinians and Israelis onto the same moral planes as Jews and Nazis.

In 2011, CST blog detailed that year’s IHRC Genocide Memorial Day calendar. For brevity, here are four of the entries:

January – Gaza: During the Israeli assault on Gaza during the 22 Day war (2008 – 09), 1,434 Palestinians were killed of which 288 were children and 181 were women. A further 5,303 Palestinians were injured in the assault, including 1,606 children and 828 women.

April – Auschwitz: Estimates of numbers of Roma and Sinti people killed by the Nazis in the second world war range from 200,000 to 500,000.

October – Treblinka: The Treblinka concentration camp was set up by the Nazis in Occupied Poland. Between July 1942 and October 1943, 800,000 people were killed there, the majority of whom were Jewish, and a substantial number of whom were Roma.

November – Palestine: The Nakba (The Catastrophe) refers to the events of 1948 when Israel was created. That year saw the mass deportation of a million Palestinians from their cities and villages, massacres of civilians, and the razing to the ground of hundreds of Palestinian villages.

Note how the Gaza and Palestine entries balance those of Treblinka and Auschwitz. Note how Treblinka mentions Jews and Roma, whilst Auschwitz mentions Roma and not Jews. Note how Treblinka seeks to play up the Roma element, despite the overwhelming majority of its victims having been Jewish. (I write this to show the IHRC’s underhand ghastliness, not to diminish the dreadful suffering of Roma and Sinti.) Note how there is no actual mention of the Holocaust, nor of gas chambers. The spin is both subtle and repugnant.

This year, to mark Genocide Memorial Week 2013, we have a cutesy little animation video on the IHRC website. (It can be viewed here, but does not need to be.)

The animation shows an adorable child holding a red balloon. The child’s ethnicity and religion gradually changes (including Jewish and Muslim). The child is simply drawn in a charming and naive style, walking along without a care in the world to the tune of a happy background jingle. At the foot of the animation runs a series of children’s names that begins with “Ann Frank (Germany)”. This is followed by “Renate Wolff (Germany)” and “Agnes Ringwald (Hungary)”, before listing one Kurd, two Guatemalans, two Japanese and two Australians, then ending with “Mu’tassim – Muhammad Ali Samour (Gaza)”.

The name “Ann Frank (Germany)” (sic) is, of course, very well-known. It immediately establishes for the viewer what the other names are all about. Unavoidably, your awareness is heightened that you do not actually recognise most, or perhaps any, of the other names scrolling along the screen. This causes you to pay greater attention to them. You cannot help asking yourself, ‘why don’t I know these other names and what tragedies have they suffered?’. (In actuality, not all of those listed were actually murdered in genocides and some of them are still alive. Again, this is to be forced into a comparative study of human suffering.)

The names change as the animated child also changes. As the words “Muhammad Ali Samour (Gaza)” appear, so the screen explodes blood-red and the music changes to gunfire. The words “Sabra & Shatilla” are now stamped on the blood-red background, with the figure 3,500. Next, there is “Srebrenica 8,000”, then “Nazi Holocaust 11,000,000”.

So this year, the IHRC did actually mention three Jewish child victims of the Holocaust by name and they did draw a sweet picture of a boy in a kippah. The Nazis’ six million Jewish victims are, however, conveniently subsumed within the larger figure of eleven million victims. Why commemorate the ethnocentric six million total, when you can commemorate the universalist eleven million total? (Whether this eleven million figure is even accurate is another, not unrelated, matter. See for example here.)

In all, 16 events and death tolls appear. Having begun with “Sabra & Shatilla 3,500″, the list ends with “Gaza 2009 over 1,000”. The opening and closing sections are the only ones that relate to Palestinians. It is their victimhood that literally brackets all of the other entries: this is subtle stuff, but it is highly effective and, as with the 2011 calendar, it moves Palestinian suffering centre stage and places it on an equal, or even higher plane, than that of Jewish suffering. The message is as subtle as it is unmistakable; and the IHRC’s motivations for Genocide Memorial Day are shown up for being not quite as universalist as they would have you believe.       

The Iranian regime (and indeed the far left) could learn a great deal from this sleight of hand. Will the IHRC advise them to follow suit?

Finally, it should be noted that when searching “Genocide Memorial Day” on Google,the top result is a Wikipedia entry saying that this is a national holiday in Armenia. Curiously neither this, nor any Armenian children, feature in the IHRC’s video.