[ France is facing up finally to the extent of anti-semitism in its midst. Britain has not as yet!MM]
BBC 'Question Time' Relegates the Holocaust to the Wastebin
The BBC Trivialises the Holocaust
23 February 2006
On the primetime, nationally broadcast BBC ‘Question Time’ tonight, a member of the panel, Nigel Farage MEP, objected to the victimisation of British Holocaust denier David Irving, and a young female audience member took the issue one step further by relegating the Holocaust to an event no worse than other episodes of bad human behaviour in recent decades.
In my lifetime I have never been able to get a Briton as excited about the horrors of the Shoah as he or she might get about the crimes of ‘Jewish terrorists in the Irgun’ or about ‘Israeli genocide and apartheid.’
What appalled me tonight was the manner in which the programme’s host, David Dimbleby, allowed the dismissal of the Nazis’ systematic extermination of the Jews to be disseminated. Here was a popular television show being watched by millions, and contributors were being allowed to get away with the mantra that ‘this was just one of many atrocities of war.’
One of the reasons why Sir Iqbal Sacranie, head of the Muslim Council of Britain, has boycotted Holocaust Memorial Day for two years running is because he finds the singling out of one victim group as a form of racism in itself. He, like many Britons, feels the day should commemorate all genocides and not pay homage to one race's near-extermination.
What is so repugnant about this mindset -- one that has wide support in many British circles, including the dinner party set who rail at Jewish guests ‘you people invented terrorism’ -- is that there is no public discourse correcting these heinous misconceptions.
The BBC, in its heavyweight position as dominant broadcaster to fifty-five million citizens, has a responsibility to educate its audience. Dimbleby, or one of the many panel members, ought to have made these crucial points:
1. The Holocaust was not just ‘any massacre’ -- it was the culmination of two-thousand years of anti-Semitism emanating from the Christian world and more recently from the Muslim world, poisoned by anti-Jewish, blood libel-themed literature saturating its schools and media.
The first Blood Libel emanated from Britain. The first expulsion of Jews happened in Britain, a nation unique in forbidding Jews to cross into its shores for centuries until the time of Oliver Cromwell. Anti-Semitism was a serious occupation amongst many in Britain. Dr Jonathan Miller pointed out in his excellent recent television documentary that he chose University College London rather than a prestigious institution for his medical training because its patron, Jeremy Bentham, had insisted that a taboo be broken and that Jews be allowed to study there in the nineteenth century.
Dimbleby should have explained that genocide of Jews had been an occupation of the Christian world for two millennia. They were burned alive in York Tower. To this day Jews avoid living in York, England. They were tortured and accused of infanticide and blood- libelled in Lincoln and Norwich. They were massacred in Chmielnicki in the seventeenth centuries to the tune of six figures; three-hundred Jewish communities were wiped out by the Ukrainian murderers. Jews were seen as Christ-killers and this battle cry to genocide lasted into the 1960s.
2. One of the BBC panellists, Nigel Farage MEP, in the context of Holocaust denial being overblown as a crime, snarled about the equally heinous murder by Stalin of two million of his own people.
At this point someone on the panel or Dimbleby should have made this point: Adolf Eichmann, as depicted in a BBC documentary, compiled meticulous inventories of every Jewish community in the world. He had accumulated figures for the United States, Canada, Great Britain, the West Indies, Central and South America, Africa and the Middle East meant for extermination.
The BBC panel and audience needed to be told that there were Nazi sympathisers inside the United States who were ready to take over and convert the American electrical and telephone systems to be compatible with those of the empire of the Third Reich. They were ready to help implement the genocide of Jews and blacks.
Eichmann’s master plan and the conference at Wannsee -- accompanied by less-than-forthcoming hospitality and cruel quotas for refugee Jews wishing to flee to Western nations -- would have resulted in the systematic annihilation of the entire world’s population of Jews. This is not ‘Stalin starving two million of his people.’ This is not, Sir Iqbal, ‘one of many genocides.’ Tutus slaughtering Hutus in Rwanda is NOT a worldwide industrial-strength extermination machine under the eyes of compliant, and even gleeful white Christian collaborators.
3. The hideous and hurtful chatter that has been peppering the airwaves in Britain devaluing the Holocaust as ‘one of many atrocities in human history and as bad as the genocide of the Indians in the USA and of the Palestinians’ and now the denial that the Shoah even happened by the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran is a step closer to complete dismissal of Jewish suffering.
Yasmin Alibhai Brown, the Ugandan-born commentator based in the UK, has wisely admonished her fellow Muslims that denial of the Holocaust will result in little Jewish sympathy or help when ‘they come for us.’ I will take it one step further and say that when Anglo-Muslim leaders like Inayat Bungalawala and his followers say the creation of the state of Israel was the greatest catastrophe of the twentieth century, and when Iqbal Sacranie boycotts Holocaust Day, programmes like tonight’s ‘Question Time’ add to an atmosphere of national rejection of Jewish sensibilities.
It is inexcusable that the BBC allowed the programme to plough along as the Shoah was reduced to a curious event in ugly human history, when as I write worldwide anti-Jewish activity is becoming more virulent every day.
When the Iranian President calls for the genocide of six million Jews, is this the same as ‘Stalin starving his people?’ When imams in London, Birmingham and Luton call for the deaths of Jews is this a curious Stalinist purge? When Middle Eastern regimes allow schools to teach the Blood Libel and their television broadcasts weeks of ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ is this some little human quirk?
The BBC, which currently wheels out Dr Azzam Tamimi for commentary at every available moment, seems keen to give voice to those who would blow up civilians in Israel but offers no voice on its primetime hit panel discussion programme for Jews or Holocaust survivors.
The survivors’ tattoos are not exactly ‘Stalin starving his people’ . One of these last remnant of European Jewry ought to have been on tonight’s panel. The BBC owes the world Jewish community an apology, and needs to get real.
Carol Gould is a former British TV Drama network executive and in recent years has been a documentary producer.