Post in honour of Holocaust Memorial Day
Sky News interviewed Jeremy Dronfield, the author of a book called “The Boy Who Followed His Father Into Auschwitz”. Although there was nothing untoward about the interview itself, in the closing moments Mr Dronfield gave out an ominous warning about “the threat from the far right’.
How obscure - what could he mean?
Many people believe there is a vital lesson to be learned from the Holocaust, which is that civilised countries like ours must realise that they have a moral obligation to offer hospitality to refugees and asylum seekers, regardless of the circumstances that caused their predicament.
The loaded expression “Never Again” has been reinterpreted and now embraces ‘all genocides’, a term which has itself been adapted to embrace other non-specific victims of violence, and not confined to the Nazis’ attempt to eradicate an entire race.
Kindertransport is often cited to illustrate Britain’s generosity and open-heartedness as if such moving humanitarian endeavours epitomise a uniquely British ethos.
However, to fit that narrative it is necessary to gloss over the reality. In fact, rather than welcoming European Jewry with open arms, even during the years when Hitler’s activities were becoming apparent, the British attitude to Jewish immigration was extremely limited and conditional.
Historians disagree about the motivation behind those cruel policies; suffice it to say that at the time antisemitism came primarily from the right.
“Jeremy Hunt has described Britain’s 1939 white paper capping immigration to Palestine as a “black moment” in history, in what is believed to be the first such remarks by a British foreign secretary.[…]
“in a stark moment of candour he said there had been “black moments” including the white paper, which limited the number of Jewish immigrants to Palestine to 75,000 for five years during the Jewish world’s darkest hour.”
An article in the Guardian inadvertently validates this awkward historical fact. The writer cites Britain’s less than hospitable attitude to Jews in the 30s and 40s, but draws the conclusion that “we were mistaken then, therefore we must be careful not to make the same mistake again” (therefore it is our moral duty to be open-hearted and welcoming to Syrian and other refugees, just as we should have been to Jews fleeing Nazism in the 30s and 40s.)
This non sequitur simply boils down to this: 'We regret being mean to the Jews, therefore we might regret it if we’re mean to the Muslims', and with that, the magic words “Never Again” are forced into an ill-fitting parody of a moral principle.
Admittedly that essay was written in 2002, and things have moved on since then - the writer may not wish to make the same moral equivalence now as she once did, but she is not alone in equating the right-wing antisemitism that existed in Britain 75 years ago with present-day fearfulness of mass Muslim immigration, casually labelled ‘phobic,’ ‘racist’ and ‘right-wing’. (How can it be racist to oppose a racist ideology?)
Now that problems thrown up by mass Muslim immigration are starting to destabilise society, Britain’s long-established reputation as a compassionate and ever-ready destination and safe-haven for the world’s desperate and dispossessed, which was once something to be genuinely proud of, has been sullied by our weak and misguided tolerance of the intolerant. Our feebleness is spoiling everything for everyone.
"five per cent of UK adults don’t believe the Holocaust – the intentional murder of six million Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators – really happened and one in 12 (8%) say the scale of the Holocaust has been exaggerated, according to research released on Holocaust Memorial Day 2019.
Many commenters below a Times article about these findings have reacted badly to this information, some by minimising its significance and some by way of ‘whataboutery’.
To me, it’s not a mere matter of numbers. The cold-blooded and calculated methods used by the Nazis to exterminate an entire race are unique, and the protracted political build-up to it appears all the more chilling as we come to recognise the familiar signs of history repeating.
Shown on that day, The Last Survivors was a powerful and thought-provoking film and a worthy complement to the harrowing and graphic Holocaust: Night Will Fall, shown on More 4 the previous night.
“The Last Survivors was a masterclass in documentary making with restraint and without editorialising. Cary allowed the narratives to unravel in their own time and direction, with no apparent attempt to console or rationalise. The editing was discreet and the horrifying footage of the deceased in the camp was used judiciously.”
The Guardian was also enthusiastic:
“Director Arthur Cary spent a year with a handful of survivors, making an impeccably thoughtful 90-minute documentary that gave his interviewees their due dignity as each reflected, often scarcely willingly, on what happened to them as children. For an hour and a half, I was crying, especially when Cary followed three generations of Holocaust survivors to Auschwitz, knowing all the time that tears are not enough.”
I wish I agreed more wholeheartedly, but I was sorry to hear that the “marvellously formidable” Anita Lasker-Wallfisch has fallen for the Angela Merkel ‘open borders’ policy in such a big way.
There are plenty of wrong-headed Jews who find it convenient to turn a blind eye to the antisemitism that seems fundamental to the religion of Islam, and who reserve their fear for the reactionary so-called ‘right-wing’ politics that is a direct response to the rise of an unenlightened form of Islam and the threat it poses to us all. That is, until some distant and hard to visualise future, in which reformers such as Mohammad al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League, make significant headway towards influencing the masses.
I do wish Lord Dubs, for one, would face the facts. While strenuously campaigning for Britain to accept more child refugees from Syria, he says:
“When I hear and see antisemitism, the tropes, the conspiracy theories and so on, I feel depressed and sad. Have people learnt nothing of the Holocaust? Don’t they understand how sensitive this is to people who’ve got relatives who died in the camps? So, it’s important we remember. And it’s important that we say resolutely: these things must never be allowed to happen again.”
I wonder how many of those Muslim refugees would genuinely sympathise with a people they so despise.
Some of the things I say may seem - or indeed be - hypocritical, but I was once confronted by a couple of the most ardent disciples of the Guardian and accused of ‘exploiting the Holocaust’.
“Haven’t you ever heard of ‘The Holocaust Industry?’ they say as if Norman Finkelstein’s sacred theorem is definitive and set in stone.
All I can say is that if the Guardian adopts Finkelstein’s ‘Holocaust Industry’ meme, which cynically appropriates the emotive word “industry” (deliberately lifted from the original adjective that describes the (industrial) scale and method of the Nazis’ attempted eradication of an entire people) in order to promote the notion that Zionists cynically exploit the Holocaust to capitalise on their own victimhood, then how would they describe their own fanatical obsession with the Palestinians? Wholesale promotion of Pallywood is also a bit of an industry - and is it not the ultimate propaganda machine?
This unresolved rant is to commemorate the BBC’s longstanding bias against Israel by omission, by emoting and by “emission” and to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, 2019 (last Sunday, January 27th.)