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London U. Event Likens Gaza to Ghetto

November 13, 2008 by  


Courtesy Jonny Paul, The Jerusalem Post

A prestigious London university will host an event this week that compares the plight of Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto.

The Student Union at Goldsmiths, University of London, is hosting an event entitled “From the Warsaw Ghetto to the Gaza Ghetto” on November 12.

The event is being organized by the Palestine Twinning Campaign, a student union group who won a vote to twin Goldsmiths with Al-Quds University in Jerusalem. In a tense debate in the union last February, the group won a motion to twin the two universities and push Goldsmiths to offer scholarships to two Al-Quds students.

Speaking at the event is Suzanne Weiss, a Holocaust survivor and member of the Toronto-based group “Not in our Name: Jews against Zionism” that encourages boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

Weiss claims that Israel “uses many of the methods of Nazism to oppress the Palestinians, including confining them in walled ghettos,” and that the Jewish people are threatened by the Jewish state.

“We are told,” she has written, “that because Hitler killed the Jews, the Zionist state is needed today, supposedly to protect the Jewish people. But there is no Nazi threat against the Jews in Israel. Rather, the Jewish people are threatened by the aggressive policies of their own government.”

Weiss is joined by Palestinian academic Ghada Ageel, who grew up in Gaza and now teaches Middle Eastern Politics at Exeter University.

Goldsmiths’ Student Unions Campaigns and Communications officer, Jennifer Jones, who is one of the officers of the Twinning Campaign and supports the boycott of Israeli academia, said that the Student Union at Goldsmiths supports the event and the notion implied in the title.

In a statement from the university, Warden of Goldsmiths Geoffrey Crossick said he “wishes to make it clear that he has at no time given his support to the Public Twinning Campaign nor to the lecture planned for next week.”

The Union of Jewish Students has condemned the event, saying it is cheapening the Holocaust for political gain.

It said in a statement: “The Union of Jewish Students finds the premise and the title of this talk highly offensive and insensitive… Over 100,000 thousand Jews lost their lives in the Warsaw Ghetto as a result of the systematic abuse and genocidal intentions of the Nazi regime.

“Whatever your politics,” the statement said, the Warsaw Ghetto and the Gaza Strip “are incomparable.”

The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of the Jewish ghettos located in the pre-war capital of Poland. Between 1941 and 1943, starvation, disease and mass deportations to concentration camps reduced the population of the ghetto from an estimated 450,000 to approximately 71,000.

According to an official report, at least 56,065 people were killed during the ghetto uprising in 1943 or deported to Nazi concentration and death camps – mostly to Treblinka, where most met their deaths.

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