Press Statement from the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network UK on Corbyn, Hajo Meyer Refutes Anti-Semitism Smear

Last week Jeremy Corbyn was smeared yet again as an anti-Semite, because eight years ago he presided at a pro-Palestinian event in which one of the speakers, Hajo Meyer, compared Israel to the Nazis. Mr. Meyer was a survivor of Auschwitz, and so many people would conclude that he had every right to make that comparison, based on his experience of brutal, genocidal persecution. But instead Meyer himself became the subject of a stream of hysterical abuse, including by James O’Brien, a radio host. Meyer, who passed away some years ago, was also smeared as an anti-Semite. The I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism, which the Blairites and the Israel lobby are desperate to foist on the Labour party in full, seeks to outlaw the comparison of Jews with Nazis.

Jeremy Corbyn has duly issued a statement apologising and stating his views on anti-Semitism. Naturally, he condemns it. On Saturday Tony Greenstein posted a long piece on his blog severely criticising Corbyn’s statement. A very strong opponent of all forms of racism and Fascism, including anti-Semitism and Zionism, Greenstein felt that the Labour leader had conceded too much to his enemies. He argued that, as the title of his piece made clear, that appeasing and apologising to his enemies was not a defence. And he refuted utterly the claims and smears that Corbyn had anything to apologise for in his organisation of the meeting.

As part of this, he posted a press statement from the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network UK, who organised the event with the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign. This makes it very clear that Meyer said nothing anti-Semitic, and indeed it was the Zionists at the event, who behaved disgracefully. They attempted to disrupt it, and Louise Ellman, the Zionist Labour MP, and her companion from the Board of Deputies of British Jews did absolutely nothing to stop the heckling and shouting.

Here’s the statement.

IJAN is an international network of Jewish people opposed to imperialism, militarism, apartheid and genocide. We support the liberation of the Palestinian people, and the right of return for those driven from their homes and their land by Israeli occupation and ethnic cleansing. IJAN has active chapters in Argentina, Canada, France, Spain, the UK and the US.

In 2010, IJAN and the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign organised the Never Again – For Anyone speaking tour with 85 year-old Jewish Auschwitz survivor Dr Hajo Meyer, this included the meeting in the House of Commons on Holocaust Memorial Day, 27 January.

Dr Meyer spoke on “The Misuse of the Holocaust for Political Purposes”, and Dr Haidar Eid, who participated in the meeting from Gaza via speakerphone, on the situation in Palestine. They compared the dehumanisation of Jewish people in Hitler’s Germany pre-1941 and the dehumanisation of Palestinian people in current day Israel and occupied Palestine. Throughout the tour, Dr Meyer received standing ovations – many hearing for the first time important truths about Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

The meeting Never Again – For Anyone was a coming together of many communities which have faced dehumanisation, racism and genocide. Speakers were Armenian, Bangladeshi, Irish, Native American, Roma, Rwandan, Tamil, as well as people with disabilities, and a speaker on the Slave Trade from Africa to the Americas and the revolution which ended slavery in Haiti.

Dr Meyer said:

‘My great lesson from Auschwitz is: whoever wants to dehumanise any other, must first be dehumanised himself. The oppressors are no longer really human whatever uniform they wear.’

The event attracted leading Zionist figures Louise Ellman MP [then and now, Vice Chair of Labour Friends of Israel], Jerry Lewis [then Vice President, Board of Deputies] and Jonathan Hoffman [then Co-Vice Chair of the Zionist Federation], and Christian Friends of Israel.

Most of them had clearly not come to listen. They barracked both Dr Meyer and Dr Eid, and one of them, Martin Sugarman, had to be escorted out by the Commons security; on his way out he stunned everyone by giving the Nazi salute and shouting “Sieg Heil”.

Following the deaths of more than 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza in July 2014, a letter from survivors of the Nazi genocide and hundreds of their descendants, called for “a full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel”. The letter reads:

“Genocide begins with the silence of the world . . . We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people.”

“Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!” Dr Hajo Meyer was the first to sign on. The letter was published in the New York Times on 24 August 2014, the morning after he died.

Following this year’s Israeli massacre of Palestinians during their Great March of Return, our members recently initiated and circulated a statement calling for an arms embargo, and an open letter to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, signed by over 100 Jewish people, many of them distinguished, including Prof Moshe Machover, Michael Rosen and Sir Stephen Sedley, condemning BoD’s support for the massacre and refuting its claim to speak for all Jewish people in Britain.

We welcome the letter from distinguished Palestinians defending their “inalienable rights” and refusing “attempts to silence public discussion” (Guardian 31 July), and the comment from Jewish former Appeal Judge, Rt. Hon. Sir Stephen Sedley (Guardian 27 July):

“. . . both Jews and non-Jews in the UK are entitled, without being stigmatised as antisemites, to contend that a state that by law denies Palestinians any right of self-determination is a racist state, or to ask whether there is some moral equivalence between shooting down defenceless Jews in eastern Europe and unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza.”

Hajo Meyer and his fellow speaker, Dr. Haidar Eid, compared the dehumanisation of the Jews in Nazi Germany with the dehumanisation of the Palestinians in Israel, according to the press release. This on its own makes it very clear that neither speaker, nor Jeremy Corbyn, are anti-Semites. A genuine anti-Semite would not mention the dehumanisation of the Jews by the Nazis. If they did, they would either try to find ways to minimise or excuse it. They would certainly not equate Nazi anti-Semitism with the persecution of the Palestinians.

Furthermore, Mr. Meyer was not alone as a Holocaust survivor in criticising and opposing the Israeli persecution of the Palestinians, as the letter states that after the killing of 2,000 Palestinians during the 2014 blockade of Gaza, a letter from Holocaust survivors and their descendants demanded a boycott of Israel.

It also further mentions the letter, signed by 100 Jews, attacking the massacre of over a hundred Palestinians this year during their March of Return. The signatories included the very distinguished lawyer, Sir Stephen Sedley, and the poet, Michael Rosen.

It also fully supports the right of everyone to condemn Israel as a racist state because of its denial of self-determination to the Palestinians, and to raise the question of the moral equivalence between the gunning down of innocent Jews in Eastern Europe and unarmed Palestinians in Gaza.

As for the abuse and heckling the speakers received, surely the lowest point was when Sugarman was being escorted out of the meeting and he shouted ‘Sieg Heil’ and did the Nazi salute. Well, we didn’t see that in the papers, undoubtedly because it would have reflected very badly on the Zionists and caused people to question their lies about the event.

And the Zionists’ behaviour disrupting an event entitled ‘Never Again – For Anybody’, and which included Armenian, Bangladeshi, Irish, Native American, Roma, Rwandan, Tamil, and disabled speakers, as well as those on the slave trade and the Revolution in Haiti, which overturn French rule, casts severe doubt on the statement by the Israel lobby that they do not seek to make the commemoration of the Holocaust exclusive only to the Jewish genocide by the Nazis.

Greenstein is absolutely right. Corbyn and the organisers of the event have absolutely nothing to apologise for. It is the Israel lobby that behaved disgracefully and maliciously. This should be exposed, and attacked. But it won’t, because of the disgusting complicity of the right-wing media and political establishment, determined to use anti-Semitism as a convenient smear to destroy the Labour leader.

For further information, see the article at http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2018/08/appeasing-your-enemies-adopting-their.html

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