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More on Miko Peled – and Ken Loach

Miko Peled has sought to clarify the remarks he made at a fringe meeting during the Labour Party conference.  In an email to the Guardian reproduced in this article he stated:

“The Holocaust was a terrible crime that we must study and from which we must all learn. I reject the idea that Holocaust deniers, foolish as they may be, should be treated as criminals and I doubt that supporters of Israel should be given the authority to judge who is or is not a racist and antisemite.

“Promoters of racist ideologies should not be given a public platform, and to me that does include people who promote Zionism – which is a racist ideology whose followers have committed and continue to commit crimes against the people of Palestine.

“If we are to do justice to the memory of the millions of victims of the Holocaust, Jewish and Roma and many, many others, then we must engage in robust debate and education about the causes of current, ongoing violence and injustice.”

Here’s a tweet on the same topic.

Yet again, he confuses the issues here. ‘Free speech is now antisemitism’ is a completely meaningless statement.  Of course free speech includes antisemitism and all kinds of offensive remarks.  He’s not even consistent – in the email quoted above he says:

Promoters of racist ideologies should not be given a public platform

If I’ve understood him correctly, this means those who identify as Zionists (which includes many who strongly oppose Israel’s current government) should be silenced and not deemed capable of adjudicating on issues of antisemitism. Although Peled doesn’t explicitly say that Holocaust deniers should be given a public platform, it’s striking that he reserves his harshest words for LFI and JLM types.

In another [tweet] he said: “What is worse, discussing the holocaust – which we know already happened or complicity with genocide in #Palestine?” And in a third he added: “Stifling debate desecrates the memories of millions murdered by Hitler! Why are zionists afraid of free speech?”

Where to start? ‘Discussing’ =/=’denying’ (and denial was strongly implied in his original speech – not that Peled himself was denying the Holocaust of course, he simply indicated it shouldn’t be a taboo).  Being a Zionist need not involve supporting any particular policy with regard to the Palestinians, and terming this a ‘genocide’, particularly when there is an implied parallel with the Holocaust, is hyperbole.  If ’stifling debate’ actually translates into ‘not tolerating Holocaust denial in the LP’ that is hardly a desecration of the memory of Holocaust victims – quite the opposite.  Given that the issue under discussion is Holocaust denial the insinuation that Zionists are trying to hide something in condemning Peled is completely unearned.

In rather similar vein, here is a brief interview with Ken Loach. He first seems disinclined to credit the reports of Peled’s speech, and then just comes out with a supercilious platitude:

I think history is for us all to discuss – wouldn’t you? … all history is our common heritage to discuss and analyse.

Holocaust denial is here presented as just another topic which reasonable people might disagree on.  Unlike Zionism.