Cllr Tim Bick, a Lib Dem from Cambridge, has declared, with reference to Holocaust Memorial Day, that genocide ‘is not an issue in the ownership of any one people’. It’s not clear exactly who he is arguing with here. On the front page of the Holocaust Memorial Trust website there are references to genocides in Cambodia, Darfur, Bosnia and Rwanda. Do a search for ‘Roma’ on the same site and you’ll find many recent references to the stories of Roma and Sinti victims of the Holocaust.
In Cambridge itself, if you look at an account of the most recent commemoration, you will find a similarly inclusive picture:
While many of the performances commemorated the Jewish and Romany genocides during WWII, some reflected the more recent genocide in Rwanda.
I don’t think anyone here will be surprised to find out what is really behind Bick’s straw man plea.
The next Holocaust Memorial Day event in Cambridge should hear testimony from victims of Israel’s “genocide” in Gaza, according to a former city council leader.
Cllr Tim Bick said including the plight of Palestinians in the annual event, which is funded by the authority, would demonstrate genocide “is not an issue in the ownership of any one people”.
Cambridge Palestine Solidarity Campaign said it “wholeheartedly supported” Cllr Bick’s suggestion.
Averil Parkinson from the group said: “If this annual commemoration is to give any meaning to the idea of ‘never again’, it must encompass those events in the modern world which perpetrate the nature and type of actions that occurred during the Nazi Holocaust.”
And I don’t suppose many will disagree with the response of Mike Frankl, chairman of Cambridge’s Beth Shalom Reform Synagogue.
He said: “Holocaust Memorial Day is for genocides and, whatever one thinks about what is happening in Gaza, it’s not a genocide. It would be better getting victims from northern Iraq, I think that’s a more large scale event with many more people going to die than what’s happening in Israel and Gaza, however terrible that is.”
Bick assures his readers that his request ‘is not intended to give offence’ – but if he was truly motivated by no more than his compassion for the suffering in Gaza – then why that resentful and misplaced implication that ‘one people’ is somehow hogging Holocaust Memorial Day all to itself?