Here’s the letter published at The Journal (a Newcastle-based daily) on May 23. (“Ending Cycles of Suffering”, Features, page 33):
IT was disappointing that Covid-19 prevented the 75th VE Day celebrations, as a lot of people would have wanted to say ‘thanks’ to the surviving soldiers of WW2.
The Jewish community in Gateshead/Newcastle (letter April 24, by Shlomi Isaacson) had plans to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Bergen Belsen, and say thanks to the North East soldiers who liberated them from a living hell; but alas this could not happen.
I appreciate the point that one has to say/show ‘thanks’ to those who have helped to liberate one from sufferings under oppressive regimes.
The experience gained should be utilized to improve the thinking and attitude of man towards his fellow man, and to cast out racial hatred. When one looks back at history, and looks at the sects that have suffered most in the past, one sees that the sufferers in the past are now repeating the atrocities!
The Jewish population suffered under the Nazi regime, yet now in Israel, Palestinians are treated as second-class citizens, having their possessions confiscated and land annexed! When will this cycle end?
Now is the time for the Jewish people to show the rest of the world that they can rise above this repetitive cycle, and that they have learnt from history.
Mem Tahir, Kirkwhelpington
The suggestion that the treatment of Palestinians by Jews today demonstrates that Jews haven’t “learnt” from their history (that is, the systemic murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust) is morally odious, and of course evokes the Nazis-Israel analogy deemed antisemitic by the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism.
Many of you will recall that the letter is quite similar to comments made by former Lib-Dem MP David Ward, who, in 2013, after he signed the Holocaust Educational Trust Book of Commitment ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, wrote this on his website:
“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.”
Ward faced widespread and intense criticism for the remarks, including by the Holocaust Educational Trust and the CST.
As Howard Jacobson argued, such arguments – by Ward and others – leaves the Jewish people doubly damned: to the Holocaust itself and to elevated moral scrutiny as a result of it. By this logic, Jacobson argued, “the Holocaust becomes an educational experience from which Jews were ethically obliged to graduate summa cum laude, Israel being the proof that they didn’t.”
Though editors can and should publish a wide range of views in its opinion section, letters or op-eds which include hateful rhetoric or evoke racist tropes have no place in respectable mainstream publications.
If you want to send a polite complaint to editors, here’s contact information.