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Tuesday, 7 February 2012

When There Is No-One Left To Speak

  • This piece first appeared in response to readers’ comments on:-

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

(Edmund Burke)

First They Came

(Pastor Martin Niemoller )

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

All great tragedies bring out the best and worst in humanity. So the events of World War II – most specifically the Holocaust – produced some saintly ‘righteous gentiles’ and even more villains. But most people in Europe were somewhere in between. This is why and how the Nazis first came to power and were then able to achieve their industrialised ‘Final Solution’.

There were not ‘millions’ of good-natured non-Jewish Germans or East Europeans. There were some – very few. Any ‘righteous gentiles’ are still honoured (now largely posthumously) for their supreme heroism by Israel at the Yad Vashem memorial centre.

Many Jews like me insist that the Holocaust was not just a Jewish catastrophe. We stress time and again that it was also the worst calamity imaginable for hundreds and thousands of gypsies, homosexuals, people with physical and mental disabilities, communists and indeed those professing any religious faith of which the Nazis disapproved.


Moreover, the Nazis were so earnest in producing their idealised race for eternity that they sent ostensibly ‘perfect’ women to baby-farms in order to manufacture their dream. So the war was not paradise for them, either.

Certainly, millions of people were caught up in Stalinist purges – many of them notably Jewish. It has just transpired for example that the late Menachem Begin, a former Israeli Premier, was lucky to escape treatment by the NKVD – the precursor of the KGB.

The U.K., like many western European countries and even Canada and the USA, was loath to give succour to the thousands of Jewish refugees that the Holocaust produced both during and post-war.

Small quotas of children were allowed into Britain via the ‘kinder transports’ and some older people were allowed in if they could prove they had work but notable exceptions aside, very few adults found refuge in the U.K. Moreover, many German and Austrian refugees were then interned as ‘enemy aliens’ after the war began.

Then there are the infamous stories of ships carrying Jewish passengers being turned away from Cuba (MS St Louis, 1939) and even from post-war British Mandate Palestine (The Exodus refugee ship, 1947). The latter was carrying Jewish refugees who had survived the Holocaust and were attempting to make new lives for themselves in their own homeland.

The.ExodusBut still they were stopped – and then returned to detention camps in Germany. This British move so outraged world opinion that the refugees were later transferred to Cyprus but many had to wait yet another year for Israel’s formal establishment before they were able to settle there. The British Foreign Secretary then was Ernest Bevin, who has often been accused of personal antisemitism.

But despite the international Jewish community’s own travails, it never dismisses the sufferings of others. Both individual Jews and the State of Israel is often at the forefront of offering aid to those countries suffering disasters. Victims of the 2005 Tsunami, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the war in the Sudan are recent examples but very often the Muslim, authorities in such countries reject Israel’s offers of help.

Certainly strictly Orthodox Jews, like devout Christians, see a hidden message in the Hebrew Bible and view modern enemies like Hitler, Sadam and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as being heirs to the ancient Israelites’ foe, King Amelek of the Amelekites. This, they argue, is why the world still seeks Jewry’s total annihilation.

I’m not particularly religious and I read such passages as analogous, But nonetheless, I must repeat what I’ve written before: Jews do not say we were ‘chosen’ but that we ‘chose’ to follow the laws of the Torah (Hebrew Bible) and that while many of us view ourselves as being part of a Kingdom of Priests, we mostly fall far short of that ideal.

As for the stories of Muslims wishing to harm Jews, I’m very sad to say that they are partly true. While there are Muslims actively involved in interfaith relations and others (like many of our neighbours near and in Karmiel, Israel) who just want to get on with their own lives, there are many more suffused with a quite unconscionable, illogical, enraged hatred from earliest childhood. This explains, for example. the dozens of video clips of Muslim toddlers screaming about Jewish ‘pigs’ and ‘dogs’.

It also accounts for the first-hand, eye-witness story about the Lancashire taxi drivers I mentioned in my previous post. As further illustration there is a personal story told by the eminent Churchill historian, Sir Martin Gilbert. He recalls sharing a train compartment with someone during a journey in the Middle East who suddenly started talking about his hatred of Jews and how he would knife any that he met. Needless to say Sir Martin disembarked as soon as he was able! Then, there was the dreadful anti-Jewish graffiti I saw daubed on a wall in an area of Bury, Lancashire heavily populated by Muslims shortly before I emigrated.

Finally, as an aside, I’d like to point out that the term ‘genocide’ is very new and was coined post World War 11 by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jewish lawyer. But the crime of genocide did not become part of international law until January 1951 – almost six years after the end of the war. A classic case of too little, too late if there ever was one!

  • At least one respondent on the ‘MyTelegraph’ site has taken issue with my facts (checked for verification on-line) and has attempted to correct me. Others have used the chance to spread more hatred and have had their comments deleted. This has caused more resentment and I’ve been accused of stifling free speech.
  • But I will let the facts and the actions speak for themselves.  My next piece will examine how Jews  have often been held to ransom for their freedom.throughout history.


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