Can Palestinian victims of Israeli mass killings be remembered during British Government Holocaust Memorial Day?
Mick Napier, 27 November 2010
Does Mr Stunnell "construe as inflammatory and inappropriate" the attendance of two members of the Board of Trustees of HMDT - Louise Ellman and Harry Grunwald – at a rally in London in support of Israel's Operation Cast Lead, which involved the mass killing of Palestinians in January 2009?
Since 2001, successive British Governments have funded a commemoration of the Nazi programme of mass murder. Tony Blair insisted the commemoration of the Nazi Holocaust be linked to other more recent mass killings:
"I am determined to ensure that the horrendous crimes against humanity committed during the Holocaust are never forgotten. The ethnic cleansing and killing that has taken place in Europe in recent weeks are a stark example of the need for vigilance."
Supporters of "horrendous crimes...ethnic cleansing and killing" are, however, well represented on the Board of Trustees of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. These supporters of serial Israeli massacres of Palestinians continue the blood-soaked legacy of Tony Blair in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.
As the correspondence below makes clear, the censoring of the human rights work of an Auschwitz survivor, Dr. Hajo Meyer, on behalf of Palestinians shows once and for all the sham nature of Blair's and the HMDT's opposition to mass killings and the sickening hypocrisy of those who support HMDT's simultaneous condemnation and support of mass murder.
(The relevant recent correspondence between the Minister for Communities and Local Government and Ian Murray MP is available at here.)
To Ian Murray, MP for Edinburgh South
Thanks for your assistance to date in trying to wring a straight answer from the Department of Communities and Local Government.
I have read Andrew Stunnell's reply on 5 October 2010 to your letter of 30 August on my behalf as a constituent and as Chair of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Can you try again to seek clarification of the following points:
Mr Stunnel seems to defend HMDT's censorship of Auschwitz survivor Hajo Meyer's testimonies during January 2010 HMD. In response to Dr Meyer supporting Palestinian human rights, Mr Stunnell writes that HMD is not a day for 'a specific political agenda to be pursued'.
1. Can the Minister explain how raising the issue of Israel's killing and dispossession of Palestinians constitutes a 'specific political agenda', while commemorating the killing and dispossession of Bosnians does not?
2. At a minimum, can he answer the simple question of whether he considers it legitimate under any circumstances to commemorate during publicly-funded HMD events the crimes committed against the Palestinians?
3. The HMDT website states that "Our work is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government." Since his Department is the exclusive funder of HMDT, is Mr. Stunnell not responsible in some way for its activities?
Mr Stunnell suggests, without any evidence, that Dr Hajo Meyer's speaking tour could "be construed as inflammatory and inappropriate."
4. Does Mr Stunnell "construe as inflammatory and inappropriate" the attendance of two members of the Board of Trustees of HMDT - Louise Ellman and Harry Grunwald – at a rally in London in support of Israel's Operation Cast Lead, which involved the mass killing of Palestinians in January 2009?
5. How does Mr. Stunnell justify allowing supporters of Israel's mass killings of civilians during Operation Cast Lead to lead a publicly-funded project to commemorate the victims of the Nazis mass murder? (He will be aware that Israeli killing methods have been meticulously researched and published by the eminent jurist Judge Richard Goldstone for the UN and many others.)
HMDT claims that "We don't tell people how to hold a HMD event; there is no such thing as a right or wrong HMD. The only thing we are insistent upon is that your event reflects the need of your community and audience."
6. In this case, will Mr Stunnell ask HMDT to end its censorship of Auschwitz survivor Dr Hajo Meyer, whose talks to large audiences across the UK reflected the views of many human rights supporters?
HMDT notes that "The numbers of Holocaust survivors in the UK is inevitably diminishing, and HMD 2010 is a call to action for people from all over the UK to learn from the experiences and words of survivors."
7. Can Mr Stunnell reveal, or ask HMDT to reveal, the political criteria used to prevent Dr Hajo Meyer adding the voice of an Auschwitz survivor to this publicly-funded but diminishing effort to bring direct testimonies to British audiences?
8. The theme for HMD 2011 is "Untold Stories." Will the HMDT cease censoring the stories of Holocaust survivors who are critical of Israeli and British foreign policy?
Chair, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
c/o Peace & Justice Centre
Edinburgh EH2 4BJ
00 44 (0)795 800 2591
See also British Government censors mention of Palestine as 'offensive'