We remember the legendary Marek Edelman, who was the last surviving commander of the ZOB, the Jewish Fighting Organisation, in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising...Edelman remained an anti-Zionist till his death, a national hero, in Poland in 2009. Seven years earlier, during the second Palestinian intifada, Edelman addressed an open letter to "To all the leaders of Palestinian military, paramilitary and guerrilla organizations - To all the soldiers of Palestinian militant groups". Though critical of some Palestinian tactics, Edelman "wrote in a spirit of solidarity from a fellow resistance fighter, as a former leader of a Jewish uprising not dissimilar in desperation to the Palestinian uprising in the occupied territories."
27 January 2016
Today – January 27th 2016 is Holocaust Memorial Day when we should reflect on the Nazi mass killings until 1945, reflect on the genocides carried out by other regimes, not least our own, and resolve to publicly and collectively resist all genocides and the racism that makes such atrocities possible.
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, which marks the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops, we remember friend of SPSC, Dr. Hayo Meyer of IJAN, who died aged 90 in August 2014. The day after he died, a letter from Jewish Survivors of the Nazi genocide appeared as an ad in the NY Times condemning Israel’s massacres in Gaza, calling for BDS, and rejecting Elie Wiesel’s invocation of the genocide of Jewish people to justify the attacks on Gaza. Hajo insisted during his 2010 Scottish speaking tour that “Never Again” meant "Never Again for Anyone". He explained how his and others' experience in Auschwitz was misused by Israel and Zionism to justify the colonization and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
We also remember the legendary Marek Edelman, who was the last surviving commander of the ZOB, the Jewish Fighting Organisation, in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The revolt opposed Nazi Germany's final effort to transport the remaining Ghetto population to Treblinka extermination camp. The Nazis ordered the burning of the Ghetto, building by building, killing 13,000 Jews, many burnt alive or suffocated.
Israel rejected Marek Edelman as anti-Zionist till his death, a national hero in Poland, in 2009. Seven years earlier, during the second Palestinian intifada, Edelman addressed an open letter to "To all the leaders of Palestinian military, paramilitary and guerrilla organizations - To all the soldiers of Palestinian militant groups". Though critical of some Palestinian tactics, Edelman wrote in a spirit of solidarity from a fellow resistance fighter, as a former leader of a Jewish uprising not dissimilar in desperation to the Palestinian uprising in the occupied territories. Zionists were enraged that a Jewish fighter of his immense stature, who declared the fighters in Gaza as the true heirs of the doomed 1943 revolt against a murderous racist regime, rejected Israel's attempt to appropriate the memory of the Warsaw Ghetto. (Read his incomparable The Ghetto Fights, available from Wordpower Books)
US historian Howard Zinn wrote that when he
“was asked by a Jewish group to give a talk on the Holocaust. I spoke that evening, but not about the Holocaust of World War II, the genocide of six million Jews. It was the mid-eighties, and the U.S. government was supporting death squads in Central America, so I spoke of the deaths of hundreds of thousands of peasants in Guatemala and El Salvador, victims of American policy.
My point was that the memory of the Jewish Holocaust should not be circled by barbed wire, morally ghettoized, kept isolated from other atrocities in history. To remember what happened to the six million Jews, I said, served no important purpose unless it aroused indignation, anger, action against all atrocities, anywhere in the world.”
Zinn went on to say that “If the Holocaust is to have any meaning, we must transfer our anger to today's brutalities. We must respect the memory of the Jewish Holocaust by refusing to allow atrocities to take place now.”
In 1992 the world was asked to join in a 500th anniversary celebration of Columbus’ landfall in the Americas and the ensuing loss of the greatest ever proportion of humanity, a gigantic mass extermination by sword and fire, slave labour and the working of populations to death, smallpox laden blankets and more.
How can we join officially approved discussions of genocides when the UK government is complicit in the ongoing genocide in Gaza when, despite the Scottish Government call for an arms embargo, Scottish arms are being shipped to Israel to sustain this genocide?
The term genocide was coined in 1943 by the Jewish-Polish lawyer and resistance fighter Raphael Lemkin after every member of his family except his brother and himself was killed in the Nazi Holocaust. Lemkin’s work led to the UN Convention on Genocide, which came into effect in January 1951. Article Two defines genocide as any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such":
Killing members of the group
Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part…
What reasonable person can deny that these three acts are deliberate Israeli Government policy and practice and that Palestinians in Gaza are the victims of a genocide under the terms of the UN Convention on Genocide?
The British Government funds an official commemoration of the Nazi Holocaust initiated in 2001 by Tony Blair, four years after his US ally, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, defended the half million children dead in Iraq due to sanctions as “a price worth paying” to realise US foreign policy objectives.
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust allows the commemoration of only four genocides: Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur”. Discussion of other genocides is not only discouraged, it is forbidden. Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign tried over several years to enter into the stated spirit of Holocaust Memorial Day and were rebuffed; HMDT censored information on a Scottish speaking tour in 2010 for Dutch resistance member and Auschwitz survivor Hajo Meyer to draw on his own experiences to alert the world to the crimes against humanity taking place in Gaza. The UK Government deemed the content of Hajo’s talks “offensive” and “inappropriate”, and removed all reference on the official Holocaust Memorial Day website and calendar to Hajo Meyer's talks on the subject of "Israeli mass killings in Palestine”.
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust today shows the stains of its birthing by Tony Blair, someone whom millions of British people believe should be tried for war crimes, a possibility alluded to recently by the current leader of Labour Party.
Israel uses the Nazi Holocaust to "justify" the state-driven racism, dispossession and massacre of Palestinians, exemplified in Netanyahu's crass effort last January to shift responsibility for the Holocaust from the Nazis to the Palestinians. We must never allow this cynical exploitation to prevent us seeing the reality of the Nazi mass killings, nor the genocides perpetrated by, or with the collusion of, our own government. Especially the latter.
27 January 2016