At last Monday’s Council meeting, Councillors in the London Borough of Lewisham marked Holocaust Memorial Day (27 January) by inviting Rabbi Dr Amit of the Catford and Bromley Synagogue to address the Council. He lit a candle to commemorate all those who lost their lives in the Holocaust and other genocides. Following this the Council observed a minute’s silence. Rabbi Amit took time to ensure that he mentioned other faiths and emphasized that Holocaust Memorial Day marked the commemoration of the Holocaust and other contemporary genocides. He listed a series of genocides including the killings in Rwanda and the massacre of Muslims in Darfur. As he listed various genocides, John Hamilton the leader of Lewisham People Before Profit shouted at the Rabbi “Gaza”, as if the Rabbi ought to apologise himself for the events in Palestine. The Rabbi added, “Gaza”, and lit the candle. Hamilton obviously thought it appropriate to ask a Jew to apologise for the events in Israel – regardless of the fact that the Rabbi lives in the UK.
It also stuck in my craw, that during a commemoration to the 6 million Jews that were murdered at the hands of supposed civilised Europeans, Hamilton found it necessary to heckle a Rabbi. Regardless of your views of the state of Israel and its actions – to ask a Rabbi to apologise, as a Jew, for the actions of a State that he does not live in, seems rather sinister. It’s the equation of Semitism with Zionism; and that all Jews are responsible for Israel.