Holocaust and Anti Semitism

Students from Sheffield Palsoc have been found guilty of anti Semitism and ordered to attend an anti Semitism awareness course.  The accusation arises from a placard stating “stop the holocaust of Palestinians”.  The placard was not used but could be seen on Facebook in a video clip showing the students making banners.

In my opinion the Holocaust, the murder of six million Jews, was the most evil display of hatred in human history.   Sadly the competition is fierce.  Germany slaughtered perhaps 20 million people in the USSR, the Bengal famine in 1943 killed 3 million people, the slaughter of colonial regimes in Australia and the Americas were terrible.  Perhaps the deliberate spreading of smallpox to the native Americans killed more people.  The thing about the Holocaust was that the Nazis were diverting scarce resources from war, to kill as many Jews as possible as an act of race hatred.  I believe that we need to learn the lessons of the Holocaust.  Humanity needs to understand that one of the world’s most advanced democracies turned into blind, murderous, race hatred.  If it happened once, it can happen again.  Last time it was the Jews, tomorrow, could be anyone, my guess is that it will probably be the Muslims.

Today across the world intolerance is on the rise,  Trump, Bolsonaro, Orban, Le Pen, Wilders and many more.   In Burma the Rohingya people were ethnically cleansed from Rakhine.   There are reports that China is oppressing Uyghurs, Modi is oppressing the Kashmiris and so on.  In the UK, there is racist incitement by the state when Johnson mocks Muslim women wearing the veil and when Patel talks about setting the Royal Navy on to desperate asylum seekers in rubber dinghies in the channel.  We need to take rising racism very seriously.

Open fascist Anti Semites say the Holocaust was a good thing.  Others question the idea that six million Jews were killed (with the implication that Hitler wasn’t so bad.)

The students from Palsoc view the Holocaust as a terrible thing and don’t want it to happen to another people, the Palestinians.  So how is their placard anti Semitic?  We do not know.

There is a debate, as to whether the word Holocaust must only be used for the Nazi slaughter of the Jews in WW11.  In that case the University of Cambridge definition of Holocaust “a very large amount of destructionespecially by fire or heat, or the killing of very large numbers of people” would need to change.  Is the definition anti Semitic?

Matan Vilnai an Israeli deputy defence minister did not think the term Shoah  (Hebrew for the Holocaust) was limited to the Nazis’ crime.  He threatened Palestinians with a Holocaust.  Was that not an anti Semitic use of the word?

I don’t find the slogan “stop the Palestinian Holocaust” useful.  Presumably the students did not either, since they decided not to display it on their demonstration. It is not necessary to invoke the Nazi murder of 6 million Jews, to highlight the plight of the Palestinians: their society destroyed and living under military oppression and apartheid.  Israel is a settler colonial state, it is not a fascist one. However, when Zionists threaten a Holocaust on the Palestinians, they can hardly complain when students say they are opposed to it.

Dick Pitt blog