Giving respect

It seems some British Muslims are upset that Holocaust Memorial Day solely represents the victims of the Jewish Holocaust and ignores victims of other genocides.

Dr Daud Abdullah, Assistant Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain, spoke to ABC Radio’s Religion Report:

“…Other peoples have suffered grave injustices. Our argument is let us recall and commemorate those victims also, because inasmuch as a Jew may feel the hurt and pain of the Holocaust, so too an African descendant will feel the pain of slavery. Three-hundred years of slavery in America has no comparison in modern history.”

One of the most sensitive allegations relates to commemorating the Palestinian victims of Israeli aggression since 1948. Daud Abdullah wants Israel’s “genocidal” policies to be given equal footing in British society.

The Holocaust was a unique event in history and resulted in the deaths of around six million Jews and countless others. It deserves to be remembered. And there is simply no comparison to be made between the Nazi onslaught against Jews and Israeli behaviour towards Palestinians. We need to be careful in making some comparisons. I am a strong advocate of a Palestinian state and Palestinian human rights, but there has never been a systematic program of extermination akin to the Nazis. Anybody who says otherwise is purely trying to score political points.

None of this negates the fact that Israeli governments over successive generations have caused untold hardship, oppression and violence against the Palestinian people and at times have attempted ethnic cleansing in one form or another.

Daud Abdullah has a point when he says:

“…What is happening here is that many people use the idea of criticism of Israel to equate it with anti-Semitism, and to silence critics of Israel’s policies, policies which are being condemned internationally by the various human rights bodies, including the United Nations and including Israeli human rights bodies.”

No argument there. One can almost predict the vitriol against those who challenge Israeli myths with increased Israeli aggression in the occupied territories.

Let’s be proportionate and rational. Comparing Israel to Nazi Germany is ludicrous and historically inaccurate. Fighting for Palestinian rights is an important challenge that will continue until a secure homeland is established. The fact that Westerners see their own victims more deserving of commemoration – usually whites of European background – is an indictment of our society.

Perhaps a memorial day to remember all victims of state sponsored terror is in order.

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