Hamas minister condemns Holocaust and answers distortion
AFTER my remarks the other day on complaints about a "Hamas TV programme" distorting
the history of the Nazi Holocaust, it is good to see that an official Hamas spokesperson has clarified the issues. One, the Hamas-run Palestinian authority in Gaza is not responsible for the TV programme. Two, Hamas does not deny the facts of the Holocaust nor does it fail to condemn this massive crime.
This raises the issue of what, or who, was behind the raising of the complaints, which were made to the UN Secretary General no less, and whether the timing had anything to do with diverting attention from two other crimes - the Nakba, or catastrophe which befell the Palestinian people in 1948, and is being commemorated today; and the siege of Gaza, which is threatening another catastrophe, and which efforts are under way to end, and open peace talks. Reputable organisations need to be sure they are not being fed misinformation, or misused, if they want to stay reputable.
It also points to the new kind of denial, and historical revision, in which the Palestinians are blamed for their own misfortunes, the Zionists are exonerated of crimes like Deir Yassin, and the conflict in the Middle East is supposedly rooted in an age-old irrational hatred for Jews, endemic to Islam. Odd to think Jews fled the Inquisition to Muslim lands, unaware of this, or that the Holocaust happened in Europe, and refugees were kept out of the United States (which is also where mos Holocaust denial literature is printed). Perhaps further revision is on the way.
Anyway, here is what Palestinian Health and Information Minister Bassam Naeem has to say. It is taken from The Guardian May 12, 2008:
Hamas condemns the Holocaust
We are not engaged in a religious conflict with Jews; this is a political
struggle to free ourselves from occupation and oppression
As the Palestinian people prepare to commemorate the 60th anniversary of
the Nakba ("catastrophe") - the dispossession and expulsion of most of our
people from our land - those remaining in Palestine face escalating
aggression, killings, imprisonment, ethnic cleansing and siege. But instead
of support and solidarity from the western media, we face frequent attempts
to defend the indefensible or turn fire on the Palestinians themselves.
One recent approach, which seems to be part of the wider attempt to isolate
the elected Palestinian leadership, is to portray Hamas and the population
of the Gaza strip as motivated by anti-Jewish sentiment, rather than a
hostility to Zionist occupation and domination of our land. A recent front
page article in the International Herald Tribune followed this line, as did
an article for Cif about an item broadcast on the al-Aqsa satellite TV
channnel about the Nazi Holocaust.
In fact, the al-Aqsa Channel is an independent media institution that often
does not express the views of the Palestinian government headed by Ismail
Haniyeh or of the Hamas movement. The channel regularly gives Palestinians
of different convictions the chance to express views that are not shared by
the Palestinian government or the Hamas movement. In the case of the
opinion expressed on al-Aqsa TV by Amin Dabbur, it is his alone and he is
solely responsible for it.
It is rather surprising to us that so little attention, if any, is given by
the western media to what is regularly broadcast or written in the Israeli
media by politicians and writers demanding the total uprooting or
"transfer" of the Palestinian people from their land.
The Israeli media and pro-Israel western press are full of views that deny
or seek to excuse well-established facts of history including the Nakba of
1948 and the massacres perpetrated then by the Haganah, the Irgun and LEHI
with the objective of forcing a mass dispossession of the Palestinians.
But it should be made clear that neither Hamas nor the Palestinian
government in Gaza denies the Nazi Holocaust. The Holocaust was not only a
crime against humanity but one of the most abhorrent crimes in modern
history. We condemn it as we condemn every abuse of humanity and all forms
of discrimination on the basis of religion, race, gender or nationality.
And at the same time as we unreservedly condemn the crimes perpetrated by
the Nazis against the Jews of Europe, we categorically reject the
exploitation of the Holocaust by the Zionists to justify their crimes and
harness international acceptance of the campaign of ethnic cleansing and
subjection they have been waging against us - to the point where in
February the Israeli deputy defence minister Matan Vilnai threatened the
people of Gaza with a "holocaust".
Within 24 hours, 61 Palestinians - more than half of them civilians and a
quarter children - were killed in a series of air raids. Meanwhile, a
horrible crime against humanity continues to be perpetrated against the
people of Gaza: the two-year-old siege imposed after Hamas won the
legislative elections in January 2006, which is causing great suffering.
Due to severe shortages of medicines and food, scores of Palestinians have
lost their lives.
It cannot be right that Europeans in general and the British in particular
maintain a virtual silence toward what the Zionists are doing to the
Palestinians, let alone supporting or justifying their oppressive policies,
under the pretext of showing sympathy for the victims of the Holocaust.
The Palestinian people aspire to freedom, independence and peaceful
coexistence with all their neighbours. There are, today, more than six
million Palestinian refugees. No less than 700,000 Palestinians have been
detained at least once by the Israeli occupation authorities since 1967.
Hundreds of thousands have so far been killed or wounded. Little concern
seems to be caused by all of this or by the erection of an apartheid wall
that swallows more than 20% of the West Bank land or the heavily armed
colonies that devour Palestinian land in a blatant violation of
The plight of our people is not the product of a religious conflict between
us and the Jews in Palestine or anywhere else: the aims and positions of
today's Hamas have been repeatedly spelled out by its leadership, for
example in Hamas's 2006 programme for government. The conflict is of a
purely political nature: it is between a people who have come under
occupation and an oppressive occupying power.
Our right to resistance against occupation is recognised by all conventions
and religious traditions. The Jews are for us the people of a sacred book
who suffered persecution in European lands. Whenever they sought refuge,
Muslim and Arab lands provided them with safe havens. It was in our midst
that they enjoyed peace and prosperity; many of them held leading positions
in Muslim countries.
After almost a century of Zionist colonial and racist oppression, some
Palestinians find it hard to imagine that some of their oppressors are the
sons and daughters of those who were themselves oppressed and massacred.
Palestinians had nothing to do with the Holocaust but find themselves
punished for someone else's crime. But we are well aware and warmly welcome
the outspoken support for Palestinian rights by Israeli and Jewish human
rights activists in Palestine and around the world.
We hope that journalists in the west will begin to adopt a more objective
approach when covering events in Palestine. The Palestinian people are
being killed by Israel's machine of destruction on a daily basis.
Nevertheless, we still see a clear bias in favour of Israel in the western
The Europeans bear a direct responsibility for what is befalling the
Palestinians today. Britain was the mandate authority that handed over
Palestine to Israeli occupation. Nazi Germany perpetrated the most heinous
crimes against Jews, forcing the survivors to migrate to Palestine in
pursuit of safety. We, therefore, expect the Europeans to atone for their
historic crimes by restoring some balance to the inhuman and one-sided
international response to the tragedy of our people.