Stephen Sizer and the abuse of Holocaust memory Part II

(Part I is here)

Press TV is the official, Holocaust-denying propaganda channel of the Holocaust-denying Iranian regime. In an  interview on Press TV in November 2008, Stephen Sizer said,

“The Holocaust has been perpetuated over the last 40 or 50 years, it’s the Palestinians who are going through their Nakba now” [1].

(“Nakba” is the name the Palestinians give to the loss of their homeland during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Sizer elongates it to describe a much longer period of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians.)

In other words, Stephen Sizer directly compared Israeli policies towards the Palestinians, with the Nazi genocide of the Jews.

Isn’t he just expressing legitimate criticism of Israel?

No.

It should be pretty clear that comparing Israeli policies with the Holocaust goes way beyond simply “criticising Israel”. In case it isn’t clear, this is what the journalist Jonathan Freedland wrote about such comparisons in 2006 (emphasis added):

“First, they are hyperbolic: no matter how bad Israel is, it is not the Third Reich. Second, they seem designed to cancel out the world’s empathy for Jewish suffering in the 1930s and 1940s: under this logic, the Holocaust has now been ‘matched’ by Israeli misbehaviour, therefore the Jews have forfeited any claim they might once have had to special understanding. The world and the Jews are now ‘even’. Third, and worse, the Nazi-Zionist equation does not merely neutralise memories of the Holocaust – it puts Jews on the wrong side of them… Jews end up with the gravest hour in their history first taken from them – and then returned, with themselves recast as villains rather than victims. If anti-Zionists wonder why Jews find this antisemitic, perhaps they should imagine the black reaction if the civil rights movement – or any other vehicle of black liberation – was constantly equated with the white slave traders of old. It feels like a deliberate attempt to find a people’s rawest spot – and tear away at it.”

Implications

It would have been perfectly possible for Stephen Sizer to criticise Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians without using Holocaust comparisons. (In the same way as it is perfectly possible to criticise aspects of the Black Lives Matter movement, without comparing it to the slave trade.)

By making such a comparison, Sizer went far beyond simply making “legitimate criticisms of the Israeli government”.

The comparison was antisemitic.

References:

[1] The whole interview is available at: Alan Hart, 6 November 2008, Hart of the Matter #5: Reverend Dr. Stephen Robert Sizer, viewed 20 July 2020, <http://www.alanhart.net/hart-of-the-matter-5-reverend-dr-stephen-robert-sizer/>. The extract in question is at 17:40-18:00.

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1 Response to Stephen Sizer and the abuse of Holocaust memory Part II

  1. Pingback: Stephen Sizer and the abuse of Holocaust memory Part I | Large Blue Footballs

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