A book on the deportation of Jews from Vichy France had its launch cancelled in New York because its author expressed an opinion that Jews in Israel had forgotten the Palestinians as has the world. Last week I asked a speaker who goes into schools to talk about his experience as a survivor of the holocaust in Germany about other acts of genocide today, including what was happening in Israel. He told me he wouldn’t speak about the Middle East, although he went on to say his daughter lived in Jerusalem and had happy relations with Palestinians.
It is terrifying that what can go on in a country can continue without comment. It is safe to tell and retell accounts of past atrocities while turning a blind eye to what is happening now. One of the main points made about making the Jewish holocaust known was that its shouldn’t be repeated. Many feel that what happened to Africans through centuries of cruelty should be classed in the same way. Is it? Ethnic cleansing has been going on in the Balkans, and is now happening in the Sudan.
Some years back the Anne Frank Exhibition was held in Birmingham. As an organiser we tried to emphasise that while the scenario was Germany in World War 2 no one should be complacent about the forces of evil which led to it: it could happen elsewhere if fascism was allowed to get a hold. We wished to allow others who faced persecution to speak. There was a strong reaction to this and attempts to silence such speakers. A strongly right wing government is in power in the U.S. supported by the likes of British New Labour. Many lost their lives in the war against fascism, but now ironically it is being defended, not least in the current state of Israel.