Scottish group accused of hijacking Holocaust Memorial Day
Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign hosting event comparing Israel to Nazi Germany.
By JONNY PAUL, JPOST CORRESPONDENT IN LONDON
A Scottish group is hosting what it claims to be a Holocaust Memorial Day commemoration on Sunday along with a Hamas supporter who justifies suicide bombings.
The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, an anti-Israel fringe group, is hosting an event titled "Resistance to Genocide and Ethnic Cleaning: from Europe in the 1940s to the Middle East Today" to mark the UK's Holocaust Memorial Day.
Speaking at the event, to be held at the University of Glasgow and a Scottish Arts Council and National Lottery-funded venue in Edinburgh called Out of the Blue, is Azzam Tamimi, a Hamas supporter who calls for the destruction of Israel.
Ben Helfgott, the only member of his family to survive the Shoah, said he was appalled by the decision to mix politics with the Holocaust.
"This is a day for people to understand what people are capable of doing to people and learn the lessons of history," Helfgott told The Jerusalem Post. "Holocaust Memorial Day is recognized by the government and shows above anything else that it has nothing to do with politics."
The NGO was "taking advantage to try to push a sinister agenda," he said. "This is wrong. Instead they should recognize what happened to whole Jewish communities across Europe, which were completely annihilated."
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said, "Holocaust Memorial Day provides us with the opportunity to remember those people who lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis as well as consider the universal lessons that we can learn from this tragic episode.
"It is extremely disturbing to think that any group would consider this day as a platform to make political points - particularly if it considers it appropriate to host a speaker with inflammatory views."
The campaign's literature advertising the event says: "The most appropriate way to commemorate the dead in the Nazi Holocaust is to stop current and future genocides."
In 2006, the campaign commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day by staging Perdition, a play that implies Zionist complicity in the Shoah.
Mark Gardner, from the Community Security Trust, said, "This abuse of the Holocaust is disgusting, but the wider context is even worse as this kind of filth is now increasingly common amongst politicians and journalists. The message it sends is that nothing is off-limits when you want to hate Israel and Jews."
Tamimi told the BBC in 2004 he would be willing to be a suicide bomber in Israel. Last February, on the Iranian television channel Press TV, he asked why the Palestinians were paying for the crimes of the Nazis.
"Are we, the Palestinians, made to pay for the crimes of the Nazis? If the Nazis killed the Jews in Europe, why should the Jews come and live in my mother's house, on my father's land? If that is extremism, then I am an extremist. If that is terrorism, then I am a terrorist...
"I don't give a damn about the future of Israel, and yes - I want to see Israel come to an end," he said.
At a demonstration against Operation Cast Lead in Trafalgar Square on January 10, Tamimi said: "Today we are all Hamas."
Also speaking at Sunday's event, on the subject "Zionism before the Holocaustâ€š" is Solidarity Campaign chair Mick Napier.
In an article last year, Napier appeared to justify last March's Mercaz Harav terrorist attack in Jerusalem when he described the yeshiva as "a training center for illegal occupation, murder and 'Arabs to the Gas Chambers.'"
"Ala Abu Dheim killed eight students who were being trained to oppress and dispossess him, his family, his entire people," Napier wrote.
A University of Glasgow spokesman told the Post the school could not condemn the event.
"The University of Glasgow recognizes the importance and significance of Holocaust Memorial Day and Prof. Alan Steinweis from the Holocaust Studies Center at Vermont University will deliver the annual memorial lecture on Monday," the spokesman said.
"A separate event - organized by a student organization whose views, in keeping with all other student organizations, the university neither condones nor condemns - is being held the previous day."
Last month the Solidarity Campaign fabricated a story that it had been responsible for a boycott by Scottish companies of Israeli water company Eden Springs Ltd.
The group also refers to One Voice, a grassroots peace group of Israelis and Palestinians, as "the voice of apartheid and racist State of Israel."
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