"Could you ask the HMD Trust to explain their exclusion of an Auschwitz survivor speaking about Palestinian suffering? How does raising the issue of Palestinians constitute a 'specific political agenda', while commemorating the killing and dispossession of Bosnians does not? HMD Trust, a publicly funded body, has not replied to any correspondence."
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Office of the First Minister
St. Andrew's House
Edinburgh EH1 3DG
22 January 2011
Dear First Minister
Never Again, For Anyone!
Since you are speaking at an event organised by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT), which I hope to attend, I am writing to ask for assistance in challenging the decision by the HMDT to prohibit all mention of Auschwitz survivor and author Dr. Hajo Meyer’s speaking tour of Scotland during HMD 2010.
Dr. Meyer spoke at meetings organised by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign together with the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network to highlight the dehumanization of Jews during the lead up to the Holocaust, to link this with current atrocities in the stated spirit of HMD – in our case with the plight of the Palestinian people – and to summon Scots to action against all racism, without exception.
Although Dr. Meyer’s testimony was covered in the Scottish press, the HMD Trust banned any publicity for his talks in support of Palestinian human rights, including one in the House of Commons. The Minister for Communities and Local Government, Mr Andrew Stunnell, later attempted to justify that exclusion on the grounds that HMD is not a day to ‘pursue’ what he called 'a specific political agenda' and that Dr. Meyer speaking as an Auschwitz survivor on Holocaust Memorial Day would be ‘offensive’ and ‘inappropriate’.
Could you ask the HMD Trust to explain their exclusion of an Auschwitz survivor speaking about Palestinian suffering? How does raising the issue of Palestinians constitute a 'specific political agenda', while commemorating the killing and dispossession of Bosnians does not? HMD Trust, a publicly funded body, has not replied to any correspondence.
You will be aware, First Minister, that Israel’s deliberate targeting and killing of hundreds of civilians has been meticulously documented by eminent jurist Judge Richard Goldstone for the UN, Amnesty International, HRW, and many others. The Goldstone Report, calls for Israel to be taken to the International Criminal Court for its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.
Since you will be speaking at an event organised in Edinburgh by the HMD Trust, I ask you to register the unease you must feel that two members of the Board of Trustees of HMD Trust - Louise Ellman and Harry Grunwald – attended a rally in London in support of Israel's Operation Cast Lead, which involved the killing of over 1,000 Palestinians over New Year 2009.
I was born in 1947 when the ovens at Auschwitz were barely cold, and grew up, like millions, contemplating the awful significance of this industrial killing. I thank you for aligning Scotland officially with the public contemplation of this dark chapter in history.
Dr. Meyer’s tour which the HMD Trust disallowed was entitled, ‘Never Again, for Anyone!’. Many Scots fear, however, that Palestinians are excluded from any mention at HMDT-organised events and are exempted from the ambit of our concerns on that anniversary. This is part of the pro-Israel campaign, which clearly includes the HMD Trust, to leave Palestinians isolated and forever facing the murderous fury of Israel.
I urge you to honour the memory of all those who passed through the front gates of Auschwitz, including Dr. Hajo Meyer, by asking the HMD Trust to lift its indefensible ban on Palestinian rights, and their violation by Israel, as an appropriate topic for discussion during Holocaust Memorial events.
Chair, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
00 44 (0)131 620 0052
00 44 (0)795 800 2591
See: Herald 22 Jan 2010: