Jon de Rennes writes:
I was happy to see Antony Lerman’s defence of filmmaker Ken Loach against the Zionist onslaught to which he has been subjected since he was selected as a judge for the anti-racism charity Show Racism the Red Card’s (SRtRC) 2020 school competition.
However, I was extremely disappointed to read Lerman’s apparently uncritical acceptance of the “flimsy and vindictive” baseless claim that fellow anti-racism activist Peter Gregson is an anti-Semite. This was the second time in as many weeks that I had read this accusation from someone I would have hoped would have known better, the first being Loach himself, but in the case of Lerman it was even more disappointing. As co-author of the excellent Bad News for Labour which debunks the Labour anti-Semitism slur, one really would have thought that Lerman would know better, but sadly it appears not.
Peter Gregson has already defended himself against Loach’s baseless attacks here and I also defended him here. As a result, when I first started reading Lerman’s article I wasn’t sure if I was going to write this, and I will try to avoid repeating what we’ve already written, but when I had read all of it, including the analysis and rebuttal of some of the accusations against Loach, I decided I did have some new things to say.
The most serious allegation against Loach related to holocaust denial, which had allegedly been discussed at a fringe meeting. In his defence of Loach against this accusation, Lerman makes the following statements:
There are many aspects of the attempted extermination of the Jews of Europe on which major historians of the holocaust do not agree – for example, the precise number of Jews who were murdered; the extent to which indigenous populations in occupied Europe helped or hindered the saving of Jews; whether allied bombing of the extermination camps would have ultimately saved many Jewish lives. Without critical discussion of these and many other issues, our understanding of the holocaust would be much diminished.
It may feel uncomfortable to hear it, but there is undoubtedly a link between the holocaust, Israel’s creation and the fate of the Palestinians.
The first of these statements is somewhat controversial and probably not something I would say myself, but from Lerman I can take it. However, the irony here is that had he been aware of the “flimsy and vindictive” case against Pete Gregson he would have been cognisant of the fact they also related to holocaust denial. But as far as I know, and I am very familiar with Pete and the accusations against him, he has never questioned the number of Jewish people who died in the holocaust. His “crime” was to post an article with a link to an article which was an appalling piece of holocaust revisionism that Pete himself subsequently debunked as bad science.
The second statement is less controversial, but also somewhat relatable to the baseless accusations against Pete. He’s been criticised for his assertion that Israel exploits the holocaust for its own ends, but here Lerman seems to be giving some credence to this view – a view that is had been endorsed by the former Israeli minister of education, Shulamit Aloni, who said in a US interview that the holocaust was a trick the Israelis used. In that interview, she was asked:
Often, when there is dissent expressed in the United States against policies of the Israeli government, people here are called anti-Semitic. What is your response to that as an Israeli Jew? I
Well, it’s a trick, we always use it. When from Europe somebody is criticising Israel, then we brinig up the holocaust.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu now exploits the holocaust in the most outrageous fashion, with ridiculous claims that Hitler didn’t want to exterminate Jews at all, but had to because Amin al-Husseini told him he must!
In his “Heroes and Villains” section, Lerman talks about “the complexities around making definitive judgements about whether a particular person is or is not anti-Semitic”. Sadly, he seems to have himself overlooked this when it comes to the baseless accusations against Peter Gregson.
The original – mostly good if we ignore the first part – article by Antony Lerman can be found here.
Jon de Rennes, Communications Manager, Labour Against Zionist Islamophobic Racism (LAZIR).
*Jon de Rennes is Communications Manager for Labour Against Zionist Islamophobic Racism (LAZIR)
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