A veteran British Jewish lawmaker, and leading member of the governing Labour Party, Sir Gerald Kaufman, has this week compared the Israeli bombardment and reinvasion of Gaza to the action of Nazis who forced his family to flee from Poland, and is calling for a total ban on arms shipments to Israel.
Sir Kaufman, a frequent critic of Israel who was raised as an Orthodox Jew, commented in the House of Commons on the claim by the Israeli government that large numbers of the Palestinian victims of the attacks were militants. “I suppose the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw ghetto could have been dismissed as militants,” he said, and added that claiming that many of the Palestinian victims were militants “was the reply of the Nazi”.
“My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town and a German soldier shot her dead in her bed”, he said. “My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza. The present Israeli government ruthlessly and cynically exploits the continuing guilt from gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians.”
He accused the Israeli government of seeking a final “conquest” of the occupied territories, and added, “They are not simply war criminals, they are fools.” Sir Kaufman called for a total arms ban on Israel. “It is time for our government to make clear to the Israeli government that its conduct and policies are unacceptable, and to impose a total arms ban on Israel.”
He also branded the Israeli Prime Minister, the foreign minister, and defense minister as war criminals. “Is it not an incontrovertible fact that Olmert, Livni and Barak are mass murderers and war criminals?”
In a later interview with the BBC, Sir Kaufman said about the rising Palestinian death toll, “Four Jews against 1,000 Palestinians - that is Nazism.” Kaufman, 64, called Israel’s actions “not only barbaric but also stupid” because, he said, terrorism could not be defeated by force of arms. “It failed in Lebanon and it will fail here,” he said.
In response, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, said today, “Mr. Kaufman manages in one disgraceful screed to insult all victims of the Nazi Holocaust and the people of Israel, who are guilty of finally protecting themselves from a terrorist group whose self-proclaimed goal is to fulfill Hitler’s vision of a ‘Judenrein’ Holy Land.”
Over 1,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, including hundreds of children, have died in the past three weeks, since Israel launched its reinvasion of the Gaza Strip. In that time, three Israeli civilians have died as a result of rockets fired from Gaza into Israeli territory.