The Holocaust Educational Trust has accused Liberal Democrat MP David Ward of “deliberately abusing the memory of the Holocaust, causing deep pain and offence” after he compared the Israeli government to the Nazis, and accused “the Jews” of inflicting “daily atrocities” on the Palestinians.
His statement was peculiar, not least its choice of words. He wrote that the Jewish people faced “persecution” during the Holocaust, but that the Palestinians face “atrocities” now.
Ward is not the first to abuse the Holocaust in order to slander Israel and the Jewish people. It is, unfortunately, a popular technique, as I wrote in the Jewish Chronicle in July:
It is the “they-of-all-people” argument: the suggestion that the Jews, having faced extraordinary persecution, should know better than anyone not to be oppressors.
Put aside for a moment that the “oppression” which proponents of this argument are accusing Israel of committing is usually imaginary. When directed by gentiles towards Jews, the “they-of-all-people” argument is in its very essence so fundamentally ill-judged and unjust, and voiced with such a breathtaking lack of self-awareness, that my spirit flags when I hear it.
Let us strip the “they-of-all-people” argument down to its very basics: gentiles telling Jews that we killed six million of your people and that as a result it is you, not us, who have lessons to learn; that it is you, not us, who need to clean up your act. It is an argument of atrocious, spiteful insanity.
You can read the column in full here.
Ward is standing by his statement. He gave a bizarre interview about it to Sky News, during which he giggled, and he later claimed the words of Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel as his guiding motivation. Wiesel has now distanced himself from Ward, saying: “Although he quotes me correctly, I am outraged that he uses my words at the same time he utters shameless slanders on the State of Israel.”
Even by the standards of the Liberal Democrats this is a mess.
(Update: David Ward has now ‘apologised’. However, one Lib Dem MEP isn’t happy that the party leadership reprimanded Ward.)