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Palestine Human Rights Campaign's open letter to Nick Clegg about David Ward MP's comments on Israel

February 18, 2013 3:00 PM

Palestine Human Rights CampaignDear Mr Clegg,

Please allow me to share some thoughts concerning MP David Ward's comments in respect of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The reactions of Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, and Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, to UK Liberal Democrat MP David Ward's observations regarding Holocaust Memorial Day go far in proving Ward's point. The reality is that the Palestinians are suffering in their own homeland, because they are not Jews, at the hands of a state that arrogantly claims to represent all Jews. There are, of course, many Jewish individuals and organisations, their voices sadly muffled by the mass corporate news media, that are horrified by Israel's conduct. As Elizabeth Morley, writing from Aberystwyth put it: "What's wrong with saying that the Jews in Israel commit atrocities in Palestine? They do. Is one not allowed to use the word "Jew" in any negative context? Is that it? Is this where political correctness has got us to? And as for the timing, what better time to speak about the crimes committed by the Jewish state than when we are asked to learn the lessons of the Holocaust? Why should Jewish people (and I am one of them by birth) be exempted from having to learn those lessons? Surely they are universal. Or are we not allowed to care about any other ethnic group, only the Jews?"

The pursuit of Israel's territorial ambitions involves land theft, house demolitions, segregated roads, cruelty to Palestinian children and sabotage of Palestinian agriculture. These crimes represent just some of the Israeli state's daily violations of international humanitarian law. The Fourth Geneva Convention was enacted precisely because of world community revulsion at the horrors of ideologically-driven acts of inhumanity and the determination that such persecution should never be tolerated.

According to the Daily Mail report, Jon Benjamin found the idea "shocking" and "outrageous" that those who suffered the unspeakable cruelties inflicted upon them by the Nazis should support Palestinian human rights! If the chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews does not consider Holocaust Memorial Day a most appropriate occasion for standing resolutely against human rights abuses anywhere in the world, then David Ward's comments are timely.

The Daily Mail also quotes Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust: ". . . Mr Ward has deliberately abused the memory of the Holocaust causing deep pain and offence - these comments are sickening and unacceptable and have no place in British politics." Pollock's criticism of Ward suggests that to be moved at such a time with compassion for a people suffering under a great injustice is sickening and unacceptable. The greatest honour that could be given to the memory and sacrifice of the victims of the Holocaust is to enable fresh generations to better understand the dangers inherent in allowing those who abuse human rights to do so with impunity.

Conservative MP Robert Halfon went even further and actually justified Israel's conduct, asserting that David Ward's comments were "a tragic trivialisation of real evil." If Israel's supporters do not consider Israel's bombing of homes, schools and hospitals and burning children with white phosphorus to be a real evil then they are, indeed, incapable of learning from the past. The Tory MP's comment that, "It should be remembered that Israel withdrew from Gaza. . ." raises the question - why were Israel and its settlements occupying Gaza in the first place - and at what cost to the Palestinian people? Most of Gaza's present population are refugees, driven there against their will by Israel.

Holocaust Memorial Day should sear our consciences and, more to the point, it should inspire us to defend all who continue to suffer injustice and oppression. I believe that you should be supporting David Ward and moreover, expressing your admiration for him.

Yours sincerely,

Leslie Bravery

Palestine Human Rights Campaign