Here we go again.
On July 8, British MP ‘Battling’ Bob Russell was speaking during a House of Commons debate on the national curriculum in schools.
Sir Bob Russell (Colchester) (Liberal Democrat):
“The Secretary of State referred to more coverage of world history. On the assumption that the 20th century will include the holocaust, will he give me an assurance that the life of Palestinians since 1948 will be given equal attention?”
Michael Gove, Education Secretary:
“These are delicate waters, into which I fear to tread too definitively. One thing I would say is that there has been near universal welcome and support for the centrality of the holocaust and the unique evil inherent in the holocaust being in the national curriculum. Once one gets on to the position of the state of Israel after 1948, it is probably better if I step back. I have strong views on the matter and I would not wish to impose them on the curriculum.”
Sir Bob’s question was a “shoah slur,” screamed the Jewish Chronicle, and he immediately came under attack as reported here in Jewish News.
Jeremy Newmark, of Britain’s Jewish Leadership Council said, “These remarks are a shocking piece of Holocaust denigration. There is simply no comparison between the two situations. It is worrying that so soon after the David Ward affair another MP thinks it is acceptable to play fast and loose with the language of the Holocaust in this context."
Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, added: “To try to equate the events of the Holocaust – the systematized mass murder of 6 million Jews – with the conflict in the Middle East is simply inaccurate as well as inappropriate.”
Palestinians, and indeed the wider world community, are entitled to feel there is nonetheless a disturbing comparison.