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Remember the Holocaust, but mind what you say

UPDATE: JfJfP Statement in support of David Ward MP.

In addition to the UCU video below, this posting has 5 items:
1) Ynet news: UN marks Int’l Holocaust Remembrance Day;
2) HMD Trust: Communities Together:Build a Bridge ;
3) David Ward website: Bradford MP condemns Israel for treatment of Palestinians on the day he signs the Holocaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment;
4) PA: David Ward MP To Defend ‘Outrageous’ Anti-Israel Comments In Front Of Lib Dem Chief Whip;
5) JfJfP: Statement about David Ward’s comments

UCU Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration

Watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m86B9WDvCiI&feature=player_embedded
Published by University and College Union on 23 Jan 2013

UCU has produced a short film to commemorate the memories of the many who were murdered during the Holocaust. There is footage of the nazi Holocaust and personal testimonies from members of the UCU about relatives who were murdered during the mass killing. Holocaust.

Rebecca Steinfeld writes: The film gave me and other Jewish UCU members an opportunity to share our families’ tragic stories with a wider public.

Most of my family on my father’s side was killed in Auschwitz. Though it was difficult to talk about these experiences and the impact they had on our families, especially on film, I think it is very important to not only remember those killed, but also raise awareness about genocide, ethnic cleansing and racism more broadly.

As members of a teaching union and as educators, we have a particular responsibility to stimulate thinking on these critical issues. After all, if society is to change, it has to come through the education system. I therefore hope this film is not only a fitting memorialisation of the deaths of my family members and a tribute to their lives, but also reminds us of the importance of standing up against racism, sexism, homophobia and other ideologies of exclusion.



Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony 2013, UN General Assembly. Photo by Shahar Azran

UN marks Int’l Holocaust Remembrance Day

Survivors, Jewish community representatives and global envoys attend ceremony marking anniversary of Auschwitz liberation. Israel’s envoy stresses importance of remembrance

By Yitzhak Benhorin, Ynet news
January 25, 2013

The United Nations General Assembly marked the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday in a ceremony attended by hundreds of Jewish community representatives, international envoys and survivors.

The event began with a moment of silence held in memory of Shoah victims and concluded with the “El Male Rachamim,” a Jewish prayer.

Mordecai Paldiel, former head of the Righteous Among the Nations Department at Yad Vashem, and Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor spoke at the ceremony, and a recorded video message by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon was screened

In his speech, Prosor stressed the importance of remembering the Holocaust.

“Today, on behalf of the six million, we say loudly and clearly: nothing—nothing—can break the 5,000 year-old chain of Jewish history,” he said.

“(…) Every year, from this very podium, the Iranian president denies the Holocaust while threatening to carry out another one,” he said. “Every day, Auschwitz death camp. It was moved up two days this year so it can be observed on Friday.

Several events meant to commemorate the Holocaust are to be held at the UN’s headquarters over the coming week, including exhibitions and a screening of “The Rescuers,” a documentary.



Communities Together:Build a Bridge
Holocaust Memorial Day: 27.01.13

By Holocaust Memorial Trust, UK
January 2013

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2013 is Communities together: Build a Bridge. We are asking you to remember those communities which were destroyed during the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

By taking inspiration from the past, celebrating difference and ensuring respect for all you can Build a Bridge in your community and help to create a safer, better future. Click the button above to show your support and Build a Bridge.



David Ward MP lighting a candle at a Holocaust Memorial event in Bradford, January 2013

Bradford MP condemns Israel for treatment of Palestinians on the day he signs the Holocaust Memorial Day Book of Commitment

By David Ward, davidward.org.uk
January 25, 2013

Bradford East MP, David Ward, has criticised Israel on the day he has signed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, in doing so pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who died during the Holocaust and in subsequent genocides.

Sunday January 27th will mark the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration and extermination camp which is the site of the largest mass murder in history. In the weeks running up to the day, the Holocaust Educational Trust placed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, giving MPs the chance to honour those who were persecuted and killed during the Holocaust and encouraging constituents to work together to combat prejudice and racism today.

Commenting, David said:

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.

UPDATE:
“For my entire political career I have fought prejudice. I have just returned from Bradford’s Holocaust Memorial event where people across cultures and faiths joined together to say “We bear witness to the horrors of the Holocaust and will never forget its lessons.”

“In the words of the Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, as quoted in the booklet ‘Holocaust Memorial Day – Learning Lessons from the past to create a safer, better future': “I swore never to be silent whenever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”



David Ward MP To Defend ‘Outrageous’ Anti-Israel Comments In Front Of Lib Dem Chief Whip

By PA/Huffington Post UK
January 26, 2013

David Ward is to be dragged before the Liberal Democrat chief whip next week following a backlash over his comments likening the holocaust to the current atrocities carried out by Israel in Palestine.

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said on Friday evening: “This is a matter we take extremely seriously. The Liberal Democrats deeply regret and condemn the statement issued by David Ward and his use of language which is unacceptable.”
Criticism also came from Ward’s party colleague, the MP for Cambridge Julian Huppert, who wrote in a blog: “There are particular problems when discussing Israel and Palestine. There are particular sensitivities – especially when people conflate Israel’s current policies to the opinions of ‘the Jews’.”

On Friday, Ward defended his comments, which were made on his website ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day. The statement honoured “those who died during the Holocaust” but accused “the Jews” in Israel of “inflicting atrocities on Palestinians… on a daily basis”.

But despite angry criticism levelled at the Bradford East MP and the possibility of party disciplinary action, Ward has stood by his comments and insisted it is time to “look at every example of man’s inhumanity to fellow man”.

“I feel strongly about this issue. I keep re-reading what I said because I have heard so many comments about how outrageous this is,” Ward Said.

“I have just returned from my second Holocaust day signing. We have had a big event in Bradford.

“Everybody talks about this awful, awful time we must never forget and always say we must learn lessons. Surely that means we must look at every example of man’s inhumanity to fellow man?”

He added: “I’ve been to Gaza and seen for myself what is, in effect, apartheid. I think it needs to be discussed. When would be a good time, next Tuesday? What about some time next June? What better day?”

On his website, Ward said he had “signed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, in doing so pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day” and describes Auschwitz as “the Nazi concentration and extermination camp which is the site of the largest mass murder in history”.

But he added: “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.”

Lib Dems will take disciplinary action but no decision has yet been taken on what that will be.

Ward said he had spoken to the party’s chief whip Alistair Carmichael on Thursday but said he had not been summonsed to the whips’ office.

But the MP said if he was hauled before Lib Dem enforcers he would set out his case.

“I shall try to explain my position. No doubt the chief whip will explain why he feels what I have done is wrong.”
Victims of the Holocaust and Nazi persecution will be honouring Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday.

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “I am deeply saddened that at this sombre time, when we remember those who were murdered by the Nazis, 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.”



JfJfP Statement about David Ward’s comments ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day
JfJfP Executive Committee
January 27, 2012

David Ward MP has been condemned by his party, the Liberal Democrats, and is about to be hauled before its Chief Whip for writing this on his website just before Holocaust Memorial Day:

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.

Mr Ward expressed himself very clumsily. By using the words “the Jews” – for which he has now apologised – he unintentionally gave encouragement to anti-Semites, who associate all Jews with the Nakba and with Israel’s subsequent human rights violations against the Palestinians. There are many Jews around the world and in Israel who dissociate themselves from these violations and from the ideologies that justify them. Mr Ward also played into the hands of supporters of Israel’s policies, who find in his words justification for their claim that critics of these policies are anti-Semites. Thus Jon Benjamin, the Chief Executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews has said: “We are outraged and shocked at these offensive comments about Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the suggestion that Jews should have learned a lesson from the experience”.

Nonetheless, however poorly he expressed himself, Mr Ward did not equate the Holocaust with the Nakba and is not an anti-Semite. He was pointing to a real connection that tends to be denied both by some supporters of the Palestinians, who refuse to see the historical background to the birth of Israel, and by supporters of the policies of Israel, who deny the ethnic cleansing of 1948 and the continuing human rights violations against the Palestinians. To mention just a few of these human rights violations: the demolition of some 27,000 Palestinian homes since 1967; the blockade of Gaza; the brutal Cast Lead attack on Gaza in 2008/9 that left 1,400 dead – most of them civilians – and destroyed Gazan civilian infrastructure; the military oppression, the theft of Palestinian water supplies and the violent attacks by settlers in the West Bank; the eviction of the Bedouin from their villages in the Negev.

The connection between the Holocaust and the Nakba and continuing dispossession of the Palestinian people was expressed with great care and elegance by Edward Said, in an essay urging Palestinians and Jews to “think our histories together”.

“Who would want morally to equate mass extermination with mass dispossession? It would be foolish even to try. But they ARE connected – a different thing altogether – in the struggle over Palestine…..the distortions of the Holocaust created distortions in its victims, which are replicated today in the victims of Zionism itself, that is the Palestinians….Understanding what happened to the Jews in Europe under the Nazis means understanding what is universal about a human experience under calamitous conditions. It means compassion, human sympathy and utter recoil from the notion of killing people for ethnic, religious or nationalist reasons….such an advance in consciousness by Arabs ought to be met by an equal willingness for compassion and comprehension on the part of Israelis and Israel’s supporters, who have engaged in all sorts of denial and expressions of defensive non-responsibility when it comes to Israel’s central role in our historical dispossession as a people….Jewish and Palestinian experiences are historically, indeed organically connected…..we must think our histories together, however difficult that may be, in order for there to be a common future.

“Bases for Coexistence”, Al-Hayat, November 5th, 1997, published in “The End of the Peace Process” , Granta Books, 2002, pp 208-9)

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