We carried the news yesterday that David Ward MP had, while marking Holocaust Memorial Day, made comments linking the holocaust to Israeli policy in the occupied territories.
Paul David Evans, who has worked for the Holocaust Educational Trust, examines this commonly-made comparison.
“… is it possible to criticise Israel without being accused of antisemitism, some activists mused on Lib Dem Voice? The answer is that, yes, it’s remarkably easy to criticise Israel without being accused of being a racist. The trick is not to frame your criticism in terms of glaringly obvious centuries old antisemitic tropes, or deliberately provocative false analogies designed to wound the Jewish community. It’s not that difficult. In fact, Lib Dem MPs manage it all the time, just look in Hansard.”
Paul goes on to explain clearly why the comparison is wrong and offensive. I must say I suspect users of the comparison generally know that it is wrong and offensive, but believe that it is powerful, and therefore the greater good is served by using it in the defence of oppressed people. The problem here is that it the power it has is the power to generate anger on all sides, to harden stances, to make peace seem (and therefore become) more distant.
Read the full piece here.
* Joe Otten is a councillor in Sheffield, and Friday editor of Liberal Democrat Voice