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11 August 2014

Chilling echoes of Holocaust in rush to damn Israelis

Thousands of protesters take to the streets of Dublin to express their opposition to the ongoing military action in Gaza
Thousands of protesters take to the streets of Dublin to express their opposition to the ongoing military action in Gaza

Boycott Israel, Expel the Israeli ambassador, It's not war, it's genocide are slogans on some of the placards we're seeing across Ireland. The horrible Gaza images have provided enemies of Israel and haters of Jews around the world with a perfect opportunity to present their prejudices as compassion.

And, of course, in Ireland, those masters of demonisation, Sinn Fein, are in the lead. With typical chicanery, they distort evidence, claim the high moral ground, gull the ignorant and give their activists something to agitate about.

Forget the horrors of Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East, where hundreds of thousands are dying and millions fleeing, it's the actions of Israel in defending itself against terrorist bombardment that's on Gerry Adams's mind.

Mr Adams began the campaign in the Dail, when he blackmailed TDs into standing in support of the people of Gaza and then attacked the government for abstaining on what he described as "a reasonable and balanced UN resolution".

Coming from the ludicrously named UN Council of Human Rights – whose members include some of the word's most repressive states – the resolution was, in fact, so one-sided that few respectable countries supported it.

As measured by the annual Freedom in the World yearly survey, according to the degree of civil liberties and political rights they allow their citizens, of the 29 countries in favour, 10 (including Russia and Saudi Arabia) are rated not free, 11 (including Morocco and Sierra Leone) as partly free and just eight (most South American) free.

Of the 17 countries that abstained, 14 (including Japan, Italy and Romania) are rated as free, two as partly free and one (Gabon) as not free.

In Berlin last weekend, I went to nearby Sachsenhausen concentration camp, an experience that left me and my Northern Irish companions very shaken.

Of course, between us we knew a lot about Nazi barbarism, but what shocked us particularly was seeing the execution chamber, a well-designed slaughterhouse where mass murder was effected with efficiency and frugality.

An abbatoir for animals might have been run with some kindness. Was not Hitler fond of animals? But in the camps there was only barbarous cruelty, for the SS were exterminating the subhumans, the untermensch, who had no saving graces and no right to exist.

In a helpful 1942 brochure, the Nazis explained that the subhuman is "lower on the spiritual and psychological scale than any animal".

The Jews, from the beginning, were the priority target, but the category of those to be eradicated was steadily extended to include gays, the handicapped, gypsies, blacks, slavs, communists and plenty more.

Meanwhile, in Berlin, police were to be seen patrolling outside synagogues, for one was firebombed last month and there have been attacks on Jews and slogans at pro-Palestinian protests like "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas".

France has been worse, with Jewish shops and several synagogues attacked, Israeli flags burned and screaming mobs shouting "Death to the Jews".

It's happening closer to home, with Sinn Fein's friend George Galloway telling activists in his Respect party that Bradford, which is a quarter Muslim, and where he is an MP, has been declared "an Israel-free zone". He wants none of their goods, services, academics, or tourists.

Since Sinn Fein adopted the language of peaceniks, they have to avoid – publicly at least – the rhetoric of hate.

In the 1990s, they were open with their demonisation, with chants like "SS RUC" and huge murals showing Orangemen wearing Ku Klux Klan hoods.

Now, they choose their words carefully, as they attempt to intimidate shops into banning Israeli goods and beg the ignorant to follow suit, join protests and thus, apparently, save babies.

Israel came into being to protect Jews after centuries of persecution in Europe and elsewhere. The dark, atavistic anti-semitic forces that climaxed in places like Sachsenhausen are on the rise again.

Threatened by Islamist mobs, French Jews are fleeing to take their chances in Israel, where they are threatened by neighbours like Hamas who declare their determination to annihilate the state and kill every Jew.

Is this really what the critics of Israel want?

Ruth Dudley Edwards

© Ruth Dudley Edwards