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On International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2020…

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Monday, January 27th, 2020, was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the end of a dark era which gave birth to the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and turned “Never Again” into a worldwide commitment to the primacy of international humanitarian law.

When I worked in Ramallah in the Palestinian West Bank, from 1994-1998, I read the minutes from the 1948 debate about the Universal Declaration. As representatives of countries around the world debated each article of the UDHR, literally everyone referenced the Holocaust. That was the blinding light of context in which the debate took place.

“John Humphrey, a Canadian professor of law and the UN Secretariat’s Human Rights Director, authored its first draft. Also instrumental in the drafting of the UDHR were [United Nations Commission on Human Rights chair, Eleanor] Roosevelt; Chang Peng-chun, a Chinese playwright, philosopher, and diplomat; and Charles Habib Malik, a Lebanese philosopher and diplomat.” (Britannica Online)

We wouldn’t have had the leveling ideals provided by the international human rights legal framework without the context of the Holocaust. Members of my family served in WWII. As teenagers, my parents used to have to flee Nazi bombs in the middle of a night to a shelter in their back garden.

This is one of the reasons that it is an utter tragedy that the State of Israel has been a gross human rights violator, that Israel milks the Holocaust to deflect from its gross, present day, violations of human rights, and an international shame that its supporters accuse people who call out Israel’s violations of being “antisemitic”.

There is no way I would have spent the last 30 years of my life working with human rights organizations, nonprofits, and media organizations that cover war without the deep, instilled, foundational revulsion at the Holocaust and other WWII actions of Nazi Germany and its collaborators.

The whole point of law is to offer an objective plumbline of accountability for bad behavior that respects no persons. That is why Lady Liberty is blindfolded.

Israel and its Holocaust deflections serve only to undermine the lessons of that era, reminiscent of Trump’s terming any factual reporting he doesn’t like as “Fake News”. But reality is reality. Until the Palestinians whom Israel continues to violate and oppress are free, the intended protection of the international human rights legal framework is daily undermined.

And that has to come to an end for all of our sakes.

Nigel Parry

Nigel Parry is a former webmaster of Birzeit University, co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, and a longtime independent media activist and nonprofit communications professional, currently living in Saint Paul, MN, USA. His website can be found at

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4 Responses

  1. Keith on February 1, 2020, 3:23 pm

    NIGEL PARRY- “…without the deep, instilled, foundational revulsion at the Holocaust and other WWII actions of Nazi Germany and its collaborators.”

    Any revulsion concerning British and American imperialism? Genrikh Yagoda might also be relevant.

  2. Misterioso on February 2, 2020, 8:46 am

    For the record:

    “Carter says Trump Mideast plan violates international law” rFi, Jan. 31/2020

    “Jimmy Carter said Thursday that President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan would violate international law and urged the United Nations to stop Israel from annexing Palestinian land.

    “‘The new US plan undercuts prospects for a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians,’ the former US president said in a statement.

    “‘If implemented, the plan will doom the only viable solution to this long-running conflict, the two-state solution,’ said Carter, who brokered the landmark 1978 Camp David Accords that brought peace between Israel and Egypt.

    “He urged UN member-states ‘to adhere to UN Security Council resolutions and to reject any unilateral Israeli implementation of the proposal by grabbing more Palestinian land.’

    “His office said in a statement that Trump’s plan, unveiled Tuesday, ‘breaches international law regarding self-determination, the acquisition of land by force, and annexation of occupied territories.’

    “‘By calling Israel ‘the nation-state of the Jewish people,’ the plan also encourages the denial of equal rights to the Palestinian citizens of Israel,’ it said.

    “Trump presented his long-awaited plan Tuesday alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his close ally, who shortly afterward signalled he would seek to annex a large part of the West Bank.

    “Trump’s plan recognizes Israeli sovereignty over most of its West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley, as well as an undivided Jerusalem.

    “The plan also backs a Palestinian state with a capital on the outskirts of Jerusalem but says the Palestinian leadership must recognize Israel as a Jewish homeland and agree to a demilitarized state.

    “The 95-year-old Carter, the longest-living president in US history, has frequently spoken out since losing re-election in 1980 and has won the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work.

    “In his recent years, he has frequently faced criticism from pro-Israel supporters for his views on the conflict, especially his use of the word ‘apartheid’ to describe the Jewish state’s potential future without a peace deal.”

  3. jrg on February 2, 2020, 2:56 pm

    Of course, Keith, you saw fit to mention Yagoda, who was Jewish, but not Yezhov or Beria, who weren’t but who accounted for far more innocent lives, or certainly Ignatiev, who was overtly anti-Semitic and whose victims therefore don’t count in your estimation.

    • Mooser on February 2, 2020, 7:52 pm

      I don’t think “Keith’s” comment has anything to do with Yagoda’s, or Marx’s or Trotsky’s (and so many others) religion.

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