On 31 October 2017, the Whale Oil website posted a Newshub article featuring a photo of the First Secretary of the Iranian Embassy, Hormoz Ghahremani, below the headline: Complaints laid about Iranian hate speech diplomat. Beneath the photo can be seen a video of a meeting at which Ghahremani was the first guest speaker. A casual visitor to the website might be excused for believing that the Iranian Embassy’s First Secretary was guilty of Holocaust denial.
Another speaker at the meeting did, later, question the history of the Nazi Holocaust. However, the article quotes New Zealand historian Professor Paul Moon as saying that diplomats from Iran were “talking about Jewish conspiracies, describing Israel as a cancer that needs to be removed, denying the holocaust”. It should have been made clear that at no point in Hormoz Ghahremani’s speech was there the slightest hint of Holocaust denial. The website also reported Moon as saying that Hormoz Ghahremani, talking about terrorism in the Middle East, made “accusations that . . . somehow the Jews were responsible for terrorism.” This is completely untrue, as the video can prove.
Reference to Jews
The only reference Ghahremani made to Jews was when he said:
“We believe that the only stable solution to the crisis in Palestine is, putting an end to the Occupation, returning of all Palestinian refugees to their homeland, and allowing Palestinians to decide on their country’s future through democratic referendum by respecting the rights of the Muslims, Jews and Christians.”
In an interview with Newshub, Mr Ghahremani thanked the New Zealand Government for playing an active role in co-sponsoring UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemns Israel’s illegal Occupation settlement policy.
While Israel calls itself a Jewish state, many see it as a state that identifies more with its founding ideology. The signatories to Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence, identified themselves thus:
“. . . We members of the People’s Council, representatives of the Jewish Community of Eretz-Israel and of the Zionist movement . . .”
Zionism holds that hostility to Jews is inevitable and that Jews can only be secure through the creation of a Jewish state. So instead of fighting to put an end to all political racism, the ideology resigns itself to what it believes is the inevitability of endless hatred towards Jews. In the process of achieving its territorial ambitions, the Zionist state constantly violates the Fourth Geneva Convention. The result is an intolerable daily toll upon Palestinian life, limb, liberty and property. Not surprisingly, Israel’s claim, that its actions are on behalf of world Jewry, is received by Jews opposed to Zionism as a grievous insult. The promoters of Zionism are keen to make all opposition to their ideology appear to be anti-Semitic. Unfortunately, many non-Jews are taken in by this and tiptoe around the issue of Palestinian human rights.
Right of Return
Paul Moon’s published views are revealing. On the Balfour Declaration he notes:
“For all its brevity, Balfour’s Declaration was sufficiently nuanced in its assessment of the national status of different groups in the region to make it clear that it aimed to do what was morally right rather than politically expedient . . .”
The Zionist view that the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians is ‘morally right’ is exemplified by Israel’s Law of Return which enables immigrants from Europe and the United States, who have never had any connection with Palestine, to dispossess the Palestinian people. On the other hand, compounding this injustice, Israel refuses to respect the right of return of Palestinian refugees, which is recognised in international law. The Israel Institute of New Zealand would applaud Paul Moon’s justification of Zionist ethnic cleansing. He writes:
“It was Balfour’s intention that the Jewish people – who were indigenous to Palestine – would have a “national home”, while more recent occupiers of the territory were classed as “communities”, and thus could have religious and civil rights, but could not claim the same sovereign status in Palestine.”
To put it plainly, the ideology reduces the population of Palestine to the status of “more recent occupiers of the territory” in order to give precedence to settlers from Europe and the United States.
Fawning over British imperialism
Paul Moon tell us that “Britain had confirmed the undeniable right to Jewish sovereignty in Palestine”. His only criticism of Britain is that it failed to enforce the injustice with sufficient force and alacrity. This blind belief that Britain had the moral authority to override the native population’s right to sovereignty belongs to a darker past. Moon lectures us that “Israel has emerged triumphantly as a modern, sophisticated, egalitarian, liberal democracy, much like our own.” The truth is that Israel, unlike New Zealand, refuses even to define its borders. The Zionist state introduced nuclear weapons to the Middle East and refuses to sign the nuclear non-proliferation agreement. Israel has been forced to apologise for sending its spies to this country in an attempt to fraudulently obtain New Zealand passports. The mission failed and the spies were put on trial and imprisoned here. This unfriendly behaviour was reflected again when Israel reacted to New Zealand’s sponsoring of UNSCR 2334 by describing it as a “declaration of war”.
Paul Moon asserts that Israel is a democracy ‘much like’ New Zealand but New Zealand strives to conduct its affairs in accordance with international law, whereas Israel has a history that demonstrates quite the opposite.
In 1980, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 476, which reaffirmed an earlier UN call for Israel to end its 1967 occupation of Palestinian land. The Resolution confirmed that none of the legislative and administrative measures taken by Israel has legal validity and that they all constitute flagrant violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The 9 July 2004 International Court of Justice ruling on the illegality of Israel’s Wall in East Jerusalem and other areas of the West Bank confirmed this.
Holocaust denial is often inspired by racism but ignorance also plays a part. The scourge of Nazism was the most horrific state-sponsored tragedy in modern history. Evidence for that is overwhelming; a re-broadcast TV series, World at War (available on DVD), with voice-over by Sir Laurence Olivier, was a recent grim reminder, viewable in New Zealand. While Nazism targeted many races and minorities, Jews were its main obsession. To this day, most people do not despise Germans for the Holocaust, realising that people can so easily be brainwashed, even for long periods, by ideological propaganda. All the more credit then to the wonderful heroism of those Germans who resisted Nazism and risked their own lives and those of their families to shelter Jews from the Nazis.
A group calling itself Righteous Jews (http://righteousjews.org/) that established itself in 2003 felt that it was a way for its members
“to commemorate the memory of those Palestinians who have been, and continue to be depopulated, dispossessed, humiliated, tortured, and murdered in the name of political Zionism and its quest to create a Jewish state in the lands between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.”
Righteous Jews tells us that its founding was inspired by the website of the Holocaust Museum at Yad Vashem, located on Mount Herzl on the land of the Palestinian village of Ein Karem, 1400 metres south of the ethnically-cleansed Palestinian village of Deir Yassin. Yad Vashem lists the names of non-Jews who risked their lives, freedom and safety in order to rescue one or several Jews from the threat of death or deportation to death camps. For many years, this list was referred to as the list of ‘Righteous Gentiles’ and is now called ‘Righteous Among the Nations’. According to Righteous Jews:
“Deir Yassin is as important a part of Jewish, as it is of Palestinian, history. Deir Yassin, coming in April 1948, just three years after the liberation of Auschwitz in January 1945, marks a Jewish transition from enslavement to empowerment and from abused to abuser. Can there ever have been such a remarkable shift, over such a short period, in the history of a people?
“Deir Yassin signalled the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians, leading to their eventual dispossession and exile and was just one example of a conscious and premeditated plan to destroy the Palestinians as a people in their own homeland.
“ . . . since the establishment of the state of Israel, successive Israeli governments, whether Labour or Likud, and whether by force as at Deir Yassin, or by chicanery as at Oslo and Camp David, have followed the same policy of oppressing and dispossessing Palestinians to make way for an exclusively Jewish state. Even now, when Israel could have peace and security for the asking, Israeli governments persist in their original intention of conquering the whole of Palestine for the use of the Jewish people alone. And all this was done, and is still being done, by Jews, for Jews and in the name of Jews.”
The group lists, among the many people it calls ‘Our Initial List of Righteous Jews’, Albert Einstein, Amira Hass, Anna Baltzer, Antony Loewenstein, Gideon Levy, the late Hedy Epstein, Ilan Pappe, Jeff Halper, Jennifer Lowenstein, Lenni Brenner, Miko Peled, Norman Finkelstein, Richard Falk, Tanya Reinhart and the late Yehudi Menuhin. All have worked to expose the evils of the practise and ideology of political Zionism.
Elizabeth Morley (several of whose relatives died in the Holocaust) of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in Aberystwyth, Wales, wrote the following to a pro-Zionist UK MP:
“Is it not ironic that millions of Jews from all around the world are invited to claim Israeli citizenship, even if they end up, not in Israel, but in an illegal settlement on Palestinian land? With my Jewish heritage I too could claim Israeli citizenship. How ridiculous is that!
“Although I have a good life here in the UK I could go over there and make use of the privileges that are denied to the Palestinians whose land I would be occupying. I might even be given the house and possessions of a Palestinian family freshly displaced from East Jerusalem. And all the time the Palestinian refugees, turfed out to make room for me and millions like me, are mouldering in refugee camps.”
Speak truth to power
It is right and necessary that Holocaust denial, along with all forms of misleading, racist propaganda, be challenged, preferably through the presentation of the verifiable evidence to the contrary that is so easily accessible. But when the Zionist Lobby makes use of the Holocaust to divert attention away from Israel’s violations of international law, that also must be challenged. Unrestrained political Zionism threatens the very survival of the tragically hard-won Fourth Geneva Convention and undermines the principle of respect for international humanitarian law. For too long, our political leaders and spokespersons have avoided calling Israel to account. Surrendering reason to ideology brings nothing but tragedy. New Zealand’s sponsorship of UNSCR 2334 should signal a determined change of heart and direction – and greater hope for humanity.