“It is kind of you to warn me about the Jews”
Best thing I’ve read all year was Daniel Finkelstein in The Times, 30 January, in response to David Ward, the Liberal Democrat MP of whom no one had heard until he said, as he signed the Holocaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment (pictured): “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.”*
Later that day, 25 January, Ward sought to clarify his views to The Commentator: “It appears that the suffering by the Jews has not transformed their views on how others should be treated.”
That was the sentence that Finkelstein took as his text. His article is behind the pay wall; it is worth subscribing to The Times for it alone, but here is some of it:
The comparison the MP made, between Jews and the Nazis, is a distressingly commonplace one. It pops up all the time in the anti-Semitic mail that I receive on a regular enough basis that I have developed a standard reply (“Dear Sir, Thank you for your note. It is kind of you to warn me about the Jews. I will certainly keep an eye out for them. They sound terrible. Daniel”). But in public, most people are subtle enough to use the word Zionist when they mean Jew…
While lecturing the survivors of the concentration camps and their children on the lessons they would have learnt if only they had been good people like him, David Ward did not only show a lack of proportion. He also showed a lack of insight…
When the Nazis invaded Holland, and arrested my family in their home, and stole their property, and killed their friends, and destroyed their community, and put them on trains to go to death camps, they were able to do it because they had the army and the soldiers and the guns. They were able to do it because the Jews were defenceless…
Wouldn’t it be good if no one ever had to die to allow others to live, and freedom didn’t need to protect itself with a rifle, and little girls could go to school in Pakistan without being shot? I want that world as fervently as anyone else.
But one of the lessons of the Holocaust is that wanting it is not enough. Israel is deep in a struggle to defend the Jews who live there against more death and confiscation and terror. Because the Jews have had enough of that, thank you very much.
It’s right to be critical when Israel gets it wrong. It is creditable to make the human rights of Palestinians a cause. But to forget that after genocide and destruction the Jews wanted a home they could defend? Never again.
* Yes, it is still there, on David Ward’s own blog.Tagged in: daniel finkelstein, holocaust, Holocaust Memorial Day
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