Why is anti-Israel extremist Gary Spedding affiliated with Holocaust Memorial Day Trust?

A guest post by Sam Westrop (A version of this essay originally appeared in the Jerusalem Post)

In 2000, Norman Finkelstein published his book, The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitations of Jewish Suffering, which posited that the accepted account of the Holocaust is merely a Zionist narrative, which is cynically used to justify putative Israeli ‘cruelties’. Finkelstein frequently invokes his family’s suffering during the Holocaust as a premise to sanitise his obsessive demonisation of Israel, and frequent use of antisemitic tropes.

Finkelstein’s method is not lost on a new breed of anti-Israel activists, who often employ the memory of the Holocaust to sanitise their abhorrent views on living Jews.

Enter Gary Spedding.

Garry Spedding

Spedding is chair of the Queen’s University Belfast Palestine Solidarity Society, the group which orchestrated the attack upon Solon Solomon, a former legal adviser to the Knesset Foreign Affairs committee, who was invited to speak to law school students at Queen’s University. Solomon was heckled by members of the university’s Palestine Solidarity Society (PSS) and the youth wing of Sinn Féin (the political wing of the Irish terrorist organisation the IRA) during a lecture, and the protesters then attacked the car in which Solomon escaped, attempting to smash its windows.

After being contacted about the attack, Spedding stated he does ‘not condone violence’, yet is evidently proud of his relationship with Holy Land Trust Director, Sami Awad – characterizing him as his “Best Friend, Mentor, colleague and leader” – who certainly does not condemn terrorist violence. Wrote Awad:

“[non-violent resistance] is not a substitute for the armed struggle. This is not a method for normalization with the occupation. Our goal is to revive the popular resistance until every person is involved in dismantling the occupation.”

Spedding’s mentor Awad has also hosted the extremist Greek Orthodox priest Atallah Hanna –  who can be seen here condemning the “Satanic” and diabolical Zionism, and promising that Palestine will be free “from the river to the sea”- at the Holy Land Trust. 

Sami Awad and Atallah Hanna

In fact, both Sami Awad and Atallah Hanna have defended the quite reactionary Raed Salah, and Hanna has expressed support for suicide bombings

Further, about Awad, Spedding has written:

“Sami you have taught me so much and I hope that I have represented you in a good way in my writings, you are a light to me in this time much as Jesus Christ is a light for all of us! … My deepest love goes out to you, my thanks and appreciation nothing can really substantiate in words what you mean to the people here or what you mean to me!”

Spedding also has echoed Deborah Orr’s claims that Jewish supremacism guided Israel’s deal with Hamas to exchange over 1000 Palestinian terrorists to secure the release of Gilad Shalit. :

“There is a point that needs addressing in the use of language by media outlets because of the specifics in the deal surrounding Shalit’s release especially in the mainstream media in the USA and Israel reporting along the lines of ’1000 or more terrorists to be exchanged in prisoner swap for Gilad Shalit’ this viewpoint is highly inaccurate it degrades the Palestinian prisoners being swapped for Gilad Shalit whilst reinforcing the current view among many right wing Zionists and their supporters that 1 jewish life is of more value than say 1000 Arab lives which is incredibly racist in and of itself.”

Spedding also wrote this about the brutal murder of the Fogel family:

“The J’post article sickening invokes the cloudy and unclear death of the Fogel family an attack which I have the report and pictures of in my email inbox from the day after it happened. I find it sick that the J’post is still using this attack for political gain suggesting Palestinians are to blame when there has been no further information, news or otherwise released about the murders since the IDF conveniently caught two Palestinians kept them in torture for a month until they ‘confessed’ and then announced they had caught the killers despite the evidence and speculation of it being the work of a migrant worker from asia.”

This was published months after the murders, when it was clear that Palestinian terrorists were responsible for the murders. The theory about a migrant worker was put forth by the Palestinian Authority’s propaganda unit, and was discounted as agitprop months before Spedding’s comments.

Finally, here’s Spedding expressing support for Finkelstein’s unique understanding of Israel.

“Ah but Anny, I do live in Palestine and i know a lot about this conflict! accusing people of not knowing about the conflict by the way just because they don’t live there is silly really, theres countless middle east experts who don’t live in Israel who know about the conflict in great detail, my friend Norman Finkelstein for one…. i would agree with my friend Norman Finkelstein when he describes Israel as a lunatic state.”

And, evidently inspired by Finkelstein’s example of  invoking the memory of the Holocaust in the service of legitimizing extreme anti-Israel politics, Spedding has recently decided to volunteer with Holocaust Memorial Day Trust – a charity which works to raise awareness of Holocaust Memorial Day.

Interestingly in the context of Finkelstein’s critique of the “accepted” Zionist account of the Holocaust in Israel as a ploy “to justify putative Israeli ‘cruelties”, Spedding’s flirtation with antisemities and proponents of terror attacks against Jews would suggest this his association with such a Shoah remembrance organization is itself a supremely cynical attempt to sanitize his alliances with those possessing a decidedly Judeophobic orientation.

You can visit the FB page of Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (or email them at enquiries@hmd.org.uk) if you wish to express your displeasure with their association with Spedding, whose presence is an insult and abuse of genuine Holocaust memory.

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