Yesterday we posted a piece by Jonathan Ofir on a controversy surrounding Miko Peled’s statements at a Labour Party conference event in Britain mentioning the Holocaust. Peled’s response follows.
I appreciate Jonathan Ofir’s piece re my comments at the Labour Party conference fringe events. I am in the process of writing a piece about it myself, but I do want to provide a short clarification.
As I see it, there are three issues here:
1. Discussing/denying the holocaust while claiming to believe in free speech.
2. Providing people with racist perspectives a platform to express their views.
1. I really do not understand how anyone can claim to believe in free speech yet claim that “holocaust deniers” are criminal. If someone is ill informed or ignorant or racist or stupid or all of the above – that is not a crime or a reason to vilify. It reflects their own racism, ignorance or stupidity – whichever the case may be but reflects nothing on the holocaust and its millions of victims. I would argue that denying current and impending disasters and crimes against humanity is far more serious.
Furthermore, the label “holocaust denier” is thrown at people by those who would have a monopoly on the discourse, on the discussion re the holocaust and that, I believe, is problematic.
2. There is a tendency to create spaces for and sow tolerance toward people who support Zionism and the state of Israel and allow them to express their point of view in an effort to show balance. My comment was, would we allow the KKK to do the same? The proponents of apartheid? – there are still a few of those around – or anyone else who wants to promote and help us understand the merits and virtues of racist ideas? I believe we should not provide that space, and I believe that this list includes Zionism. I see it as a racist, settler colonial ideology that was and is responsible for crimes against humanity and therefore they should not be given a public space in which to legitimize their ideology.
I did not, by the way, compare Israel to Nazi Germany as was reported at one point.
3. I do know what Anti-Semitism is. What I meant in my comment to Phil Weiss was, I don’t know what it means in this context. When in the UK and elsewhere people who have dedicated their lives to promoting tolerance and fighting racism are now called anti-Semitic and when people are called antisemitic because they support justice in Palestine and people are called antisemitic because they support BDS [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions], then I don’t know what antisemitism is. Chuck Schumer – US senator from NY, says that BDS is a modern form of Anti-Semitism. BDS calls for tolerance, justice, and equality – what is antisemitic about that?
As I said I will write more about this and will post later. Once again I thank Jonathan for his thoughtful piece and for raising these important issues.