Ray Cook - As I See It

Israel, Zionism and the Media

Month: January 2013

Why David Ward’s remarks about Israel and the Holocaust are mainstream

David Ward MP is in a spot of bother with the Liberal Democrats.

On the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK he chose to make the following slanderous comparison between Israeli Jews and Nazi Germany:

” [he was] “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”.

Even to rebut this piece of trash is like trying to respond to a ‘when did you stop beating your wife’ question, but here goes.

There are about a hundred things wrong with this statement so let’s dissect it.

Firstly he makes the telling conflation of Jews and Israelis. Is he really saying that, given his statement that ‘atrocities’ are and have been visited upon Palestinians that the Jews are responsible wherever they are in the world? Israel may be the nation state of the Jews but not all Jews live there or even identify with it.

Second:  he uses that trick which others have used before; to be ever so sorry about the Holocaust and to tell us how awfully the Jews were treated and then go on to accuse them of ‘not learning the lesson’ of the Holocaust as if it’s the victims who have a lesson to learn and not the perpetrators. it also conveniently avoids the fact that it is Israel’s and the Jews’ enemies who daily proclaim their wish to annihilate Israel and the Jewish people: Hamas, Hizbollah and the Iranian regime.

Third: He says ‘within a few years’ of the lesson that the world taught the Jews, they were themselves perpetrating atrocities. Oh, really. In the 19 years between the declaration of the State of Israel when it was attacked by armies of the Arab League intending to finish Hitler’s work, until 1967 when the same Arab League lost a war in 6 days and had to concede territory after attacking Israel once again, all the ‘atrocities’ were against the Jews.

Fourth: He says that these atrocities were perpetrated IN the new State of Israel. Is he referring to the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who fled or were forced out as a result of the attack on Israel by the Arab League? Did atrocities occur? Of course they did; war always produces atrocities whether it be in Afghanistan, World War II or Vietnam. Israeli atrocities as regrettable as they were were certainly no greater than those of their enemies and, in my view, considerably less. However, an atrocity is an atrocity. But is Mr Ward, therefore, holding Israeli Jews to a higher standard than the rest of the world? If so, than this is actually a marker for anti-Semitism – not that I would accuser Mr Ward of that, that would be too simple. it’s far deeper than a irrational hatred, it’s a pathology.

Fifth: ‘continue to do so on a daily basis’. So Mr Ward is saying that Jews (presumably those in Israel) are daily committing atrocities. Like what? No doubt there is much Israel can be criticised for. No doubt that innocents die. But there is a context for this, whether you agree with Israel being in the West Bank, for example, or not what atrocities are here? Maybe he means settlers allegedly taking Palestinian land? Or, maybe some settlers have shot and even killed Palestinians. Is he referring to the awful ‘Price Tag’ actions which target Mosques and farmers’ crops. These may all be crimes, but are they atrocities like the Nazis committed atrocities? Do they deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence? If so, half the countries of the world should have learned these lessons – why pick on Israel, of all countries, or rather ‘Jews’ as examples of atrocity perpetrators when he could have mentioned: Cambodia, Rwanda, Tibet, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Algeria, Mali, Nigeria, Congo. This is not an exhaustive list. Every one of those conflicts exhibit truly awful atrocities on a large scale of both genocide, and ethnic-cleansing as well as internecine and tribal warfare.

Even the USA and the UK have not been atrocity free in recent years. And this is to say nothing of Islamist atrocities, including those against Israel, which have been a part of everyday life for over a decade.

He also mentioned Gaza which was ethnically cleansed of Jews by the, er, Israelis eight years ago, since which time its inhabitants have set a course of suicide bombings and rocket fire against Israel. Its government, Hamas, has a charter which clearly sets out its mission to destroy Israel and the Jews. Nice. Clearly THEY didn’t learn the lesson of the Holocaust; or maybe they did, and the lesson was that if you threaten to wipe out the Jews no-one will believe you.  Meanwhile Israel continues to provide them with water, electricity, hundreds of truckloads of goods daily and treats thousands of Gazans every year for free in Israeli hospitals.

So  Mr Ward, the British provided the Germans with all that was necessary to sustain life whilst the Luftwaffe blitzed England, is that right, Mr Ward?

Yet it is Israel who has to learn the lesson of its own intended destruction.

Sixth: Mr Ward’s words imply strongly, and please read them very carefully, that Israel’s actions are, somehow, comparable to the actions of the Nazis. This is in itself actually an anti-Semitic marker, but let’s again exonerate Mr Ward from that accusation; I’m sure many of his constituents in Bradford would never countenance, let alone elect anyone with such views.

So let’s look at what characterised the Nazi’s atrocities against Jews (and here I also have to mention Roma, Gays and the mentally ill etc. who, it is presumed, have indeed learned the lessons of their experiences in the Holocaust and would never commit a single atrocity against anyone, ever again, as a result, their all being very special super-human people who inherited the no-atrocity gene from their forbears, whereas the benighted Jews did not).

Please, Mr Ward, show me the death camps, the labour camps; show me the ghettos (and, no, Gaza is not a ghetto, it’s a political entity which happens to be an outclave of the Palestinian Authority thanks to Egypt cutting it loose some time ago). Show me the starving millions; the cattle trucks; the gas chambers; the denial of paid work; the laws. Show me the death pits, the disease, the torture, the summary executions of innocents – show me the genocide, Mr Ward.

So, Mr Ward has knee-jerked his anti-Semitic trope, inspired as he was by Holocaust Remembrance Day which sticks in the throat of certain people on the Left in British political classes, because their favourite victims, the Palestinians, engineers of their own fate, and themselves as anti-Semitic as they come, don’t figure in this national breast-beating for the wrongs done to the Jews and others. They cannot abide that the Jews should garner a single drop of sympathy or that maybe some people might just begin to figure out why the Jews need their own country and justify defending it against those who are themselves inspired not by Holocaust Remembrance Day but by the perpetrators of the Shoah, the Nazis, to whom Mr Ward so egregiously compares the Jews.

Some have said that Mr Ward is playing to his Muslim constituents gallery. If this were true it would be a calumnious attitude towards them in that it implies that Muslims in his constituency would be more likely to vote for him because he accuses Jews of behaving like Nazis. After all, Mr Ward is not George Galloway.

All this goes to show that, in the UK today, you can get away with (give or take a reprimand) slandering Israel – even on the eve of a day intended to remind us what such attitudes can lead to.  Such views are now mainstream because the public has bought into the anti-Israel narrative to such a degree that they will even believe that Israelis behave like Nazis thus demonstrating not only ignorance of Nazis but also Israelis.



A tribute to my mother

My mother Sally was born on January 16th 1920 in the East End of London. Third child and second daughter. Her younger sister was born six years later.

The story of how my mother grew up in grinding poverty before the Welfare State existed and how the family of six came through the Depression and the Second World War is one that has fascinated me all my life and, one day, I may just complete that book that I started 20 years ago.

My mother’s experience was both different and, at the same time, similar to so many families living in the East End in the 20’s and 30’s of the last century. Different because each story is unique, similar because they all shared the difficult economic and social issues of the time.

My grandparents arrived in England from Poland (part of Russia at the time) in the first decade of the 20th century.

They all settled in the East End of London.

Both my grandfathers were tailors. My mother’s mother, Booba, was an expert seamstress specialising in buttonholes. She worked at home once she was married. One of her clients was the former world boxing champion Jack Johnson who had to come to England from America because of troubles in his native land.

From 1913 until 1940 the family lived either side of Commercial Road. My grandfather was a sickly man who, when conscripted in 1918 to be sent to France during the Great War, was found to be completely unfit for service. Given the desperation for manpower in 1918 he must really have been a very poor specimen. I still have his discharge certificate. He was given the King’s shilling and sent home. This must have been a great relief to my grandmother sitting at home with two young children.

For the next 20 years he drifted in and out of work and hospital. This put a huge strain on the family. My mother and her older brother were key in topping up the family income whenever they could. This taught my mother lifetime thrift which was accompanied by huge compassion and generosity.

A bright child and teenager, nevertheless my mother’s education ended at age 14, and, like so any others, she was apprenticed as a dressmaker. She excelled at this. When I was growing up my mother made me and my brother entire suits, and she made my cousin’s wedding suit. My earliest memories involve tins of buttons of every size and description, needles, pins, tailor’s chalk, wool and cotton reels and words like ‘bobbin’. My Mum would work on an old Singers sewing machine in the kitchen of our flat in North West London.

She was old enough to remember clearly the Battle of Cable Street when Jews and others blocked a march by Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts through the streets of the East End. Her mother took a chair leg and was prepared to use it. She ended up in Leman Street ‘nick’ for a while but was released without charge, or so the story goes.

When the war came the family had to abandon their flat in Fordham Street because of unexploded munitions, probably high-explosive bombs. This was after experiencing the blitz at close hand for several months during which they spent many a night in bomb shelters, although they did not use the Underground.

On returning home one evening in 1940 after an air raid they were prevented from entering their home due to the danger of the UXB’s. My grandmother persuaded a policeman to let her in to take some essentials. One of these essentials was the set of shabbat candlesticks.

They set off for Aylesbury on the advice of a neighbour only to find, on arrival, that a flu epidemic meant that they would have to go elsewhere. Spending the night in a nearby market town they were selected the following morning by the vicar of a small village where Jews had never set foot since the Norman Conquest. Their sojourn at the vicarage became a legendary tale in the family, and it ended with my 21 year old mother taking the vicar to a tribunal for maltreating his evacuees.

Years later I visited the vicarage, now a private home, with my mother and brother and found that my mother’s family had remained a legend in the village, unbeknown to us, for 50 years.

My mother’s life was a hard one and full of tragedies. Her older sister never really grew up and although independent and even marrying in later life, she remained effectively my mother’s ward until her death.

My mother lost her first child which was a stillborn boy. This greatly affected her mentally and she had a nervous breakdown as a result. Her younger sister died tragically at aged 35 and her father passed away just after I was born. My father z”l passed away 27 years ago after 35 years of marriage.

Living to almost 93 meant she outlived her family and friends. She moved to Manchester from London to be near me and my family after illness 12 years ago and this is where she passed away.

Mum had a very vibrant personality, full of fun, jokes and humour. She was a great story-teller. She loved films and read a lot. Because of her I can still point out the obscurest supporting actors in 1930’s musicals. Much of her general knowledge came from films which formed her secondary education.

She often surprised people, including me, with her knowledge and intelligence. As a young woman she paired with her brother to form a formidable dancing partnership and they won many competitions before and during the war. She had huge potential which, in another era, may have led her to achieve much more in life.

Her lasting achievement is her devotion to family and her selflessness over many decades. She dedicated her life to those around her. In this, she was very much the Jewish mother. She had her faults, of course, and the scars of those early years would sometimes come to the surface.

She passed on to me and my brother a great pride in being Jewish. I have, since a young age, felt duty-bound to stay in that tradition. She was responsible for the emotional and cultural super-glue for which I am now so grateful.

I used to call my mother almost every night for 10 years. Even now, several weeks after her passing, at a certain time in the evening, I still feel that mental tug telling me ‘don’t forget to call Mum’. Ever so often, and I know this is very common and natural, I hear myself saying to myself ‘you must tell Mum’ or ‘I wonder what Mum will think of this’. Even when I was growing a beard during the 30 days of mourning, the ‘shloshim’, I often thought ‘what will Mum say when she sees me looking like this’.

Ah, well.

There is a strong tradition in Judaism that your loved ones live on in your memories of them.

And there are many memories in a long life.

Getting back in the saddle

My regular followers (by the way, how are you both?) will have realised that I have not posted for some time.

My mother became ill at the end of November and passed away on December 7th.

So during this time, and in the days immediately following, I was not disposed to doing much writing. I decided to confine myself to tweeting.

Tweeting is a great way to blog  without too much effort.

I’d like to follow this post with a brief tribute to my mother z”‘l.