"From Warsaw Ghetto to the Gaza Strip" event held at Goldsmiths

By Simon Friend
November 13, 2008

An event held this week at Goldsmith's University entitled: "From the Warsaw Ghetto to the Gaza Strip", follows the Palestine twinning campaign's success last year in pairing the university with Al-Quds University in the West Bank. Speaking at the event was Suzanne Weiss, a Holocaust survivor and member of a Toronto-based group, Not in our Name: Jews against Zionism, who claimed that Israel "uses many of the methods of Nazism to oppress the Palestinians".

Goldsmiths' union campaigns and communications officer, Jennifer Jones, who is one of the administrators of the twinning campaign, hoped that "the few vocal Zionists on campus become involved in a more positive capacity to support those suffering under the occupation".

But a spokesperson from the Union of Jewish Students said: "The Warsaw Ghetto and the Gaza Strip are incomparable. The event "cheapens the Holocaust for political gain".



Jonathan Hoffman

Sat, 11/15/2008 - 11:52

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OPEN LETTER to a Goldsmiths Student Union Officer who - like me - was at the event

13 November 2008

Dear Holly Bott

"From the Warsaw Ghetto to the Gaza Ghetto" - 12 November - Palestinian Society, Goldsmiths College, London University

You invited me to write to you about this event.

Both the title and the content of this event were antisemitic, according to the most widely agreed definition of antisemitism (that of the European Union Monitoring Committee - it can be found at this link:


This definition is used inter alia by the US State Dept and by the UK Parliamentary Committee on Antisemitism. It includes among examples of statements that could be antisemitic: “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

The title clearly falls into that category. So did much of Suzanne Weiss’ talk. The following are six examples that I noted down:

- Israel defended its participation in the 1956 invasion of Suez in the name of preventing a new Holocaust.

- Israel's attacks against the Palestinians have increasingly used the methods of Nazism.
Zionism and Nazism have ethnic cleansing in common

- There are three groups of similarities between the Warsaw Ghetto and Gaza: ‘methods’, ‘motivation’ and ‘resistance’.
The Zionists' "final solution" is a Holocaust against the Palestinians.

- The "Gaza Ghetto" is reminiscent of the Nazis.
Quite apart from being replete with antisemitism, Weiss’ talk was also replete with falsehoods.

Here are seven examples that I noted down:

- She said Zionism seeks an ethnically exclusive State. In fact 20% of the citizens of Israel are not Jewish and their minority rights are protected by both the Declaration of Independence and the law.

- She said Israel wants to eliminate Palestinians from the face of the earth / wipe them from the map

- She said in 1948 Israel displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. Historians such as Ephraim Karsh and Benny Morris have shown that this is not true.

- She said that Israel has a “racist quest for more land”. The truth is that Israel never sought to control the West Bank and Gaza, and has returned Gaza to Palestinian control. Both fell under Israeli control as a result of the 1967 War, when Israel launched a pre-emptive attack when Egypt was massing on its borders and when Israel was attacked by Jordan.

- She said that the “Zionists want their exclusively Jewish State to expand”. This is false because (i) Israel is not “exclusively Jewish”, see above and (ii) Israel has no desire to expand – indeed the “Road Map” to peace (to which Israel is committed) commits to complete withdrawal, in exchange for a commitment to peace.

- She said (I think I heard right) that Gazans are often forced to crawl naked.

- She said 40% of the Holocaust survivors in Israel are below the poverty line.

But the biggest falsehood of all was in the title of the event, "From the Warsaw Ghetto to the Gaza Ghetto". Here are ten ways in which the Warsaw Ghetto differed from the situation in Gaza:

1. How did they get there?
W - Jews were forcibly rounded up and sent there
G - Residents have lived there for generations
Arrived there after wars with Israel
Went there to escape from Egypt

2. Allowed out?
W - Under no circumstances – under threat of death

G - Until recently Israel allowed tens of thousands every day to work in Israel.

Israel allows in medical cases.

Egypt maintains a blockade.

3 - Supplies allowed in?
W - No
G - Israel sends in approx 90 lorries of supplies, 5 days a week.
Mass smuggling campaign.
Egypt has closed its border.

4. Has other housing been provided?
W - No
G - Israel left Gaza in 2005.

5. Do people die of hunger?
W - Hundreds - daily
G - No – see the photo of Lauren Booth in a well-stocked shop

6. Was the outcome in the residents’ control?
W No – liquidation and slaughter
G - When Hamas recognises Israel and changes its antisemitic Charter, peace can come quickly.

7. Resistance?
W - Pathetic – and directed against troops
G - Daily Kassam rocket fire directed randomly against civilian targets in Israel (nb there is now a ceasefire)

8. Life expectancy
W - 3 years at most for a Jewish woman
G - 75 for a Palestinian woman (Souce:UN)

9. Human rights
W - The world ignored the slaughter of 100s of thousands.
G - Hamas rejects freedom of press, persecutes Christians, subjects women and gays to second class status and has dismissed teachers who are not members of Hamas

10. Genocide
W - Yes
G - No

(thanks to Michael Horesh for permission to adapt this table from his blog)


You claim that your Union has a “no platform” policy for racists and that you condemn racism. If this was so, surely you would not offer a platform to speakers who make antisemitic statements.

Unlike in the US, there is no concept of "freedom of speech" in English law. The college and the Union have to have regard to their duties under the Race Relations Amendment Act, the Racial and Religious Hatred Act, the Protection against Harrassment Act, the Public Order Act and others. The Human Rights Act 1998 says specifically that human rights protection (the right of free speech) must not be used to undermine the human rights of others, in this case the rights of Jewish students on campus. I know that the outcome of events such as this is to increase the pressures on Jewish students on campus, since Israel is central to Judaism (you will be aware that the Zionist movement – the move for a State grounded in Judaism – was the response to centuries of persecution of Jews culminating in the Holocaust).

If Jewish students are indeed being intimidated as a result of events such as tonight’s, then at some stage there will be a successful prosecution under one or more of these Acts.

Is it too much to hope that Student Unions such as yours will self-regulate before this happens?

Jonathan Hoffman

Jonathan Hoffman

Sat, 11/15/2008 - 13:09

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The advance publicity for the talk (which I attended) said that Weiss was a Holocaust survivor and (see Facebook) was in the "Warsaw Ghetto" as a child


She introduced herself as a "survivor of the Jewish Holocaust".

Presumably she and the organisers at Goldsmiths feel that if people think she has had personal experience of the Holocaust and the "Warsaw Ghetto", her comparison of the "Warsaw Ghetto" and Gaza will be credible.

I challenge Weiss to prove these assertions.

I was at the talk and judge that Weiss was born between 1940 and 1945. She said that she was in an orphanage in France and that at the age of 9 she was adopted by a US family and went to America. That would surely not entitle her to call herself a "survivor". A "survivor" is someone who themselves directly experienced Nazism, eg in a concentration camp or the "Warsaw Ghetto".

If she is falsely claiming to be a "survivor" in order to add to her authenticity in comparing Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto, that is massively offensive to genuine survivors and their families, in particular to those who built the State of Israel to ensure that never again could genocide of the Jewish people ever be attempted.

If Weiss can prove that she is a genuine survivor, defined as someone who themselves directly experienced Nazism, eg in a concentration camp or the "Warsaw Ghetto", then I will happily apologise for raising doubts about her authenticity.


Thu, 02/03/2011 - 09:05

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Yes, but she is still a moron - or worse - for supporting the antisemitic notion that Gaza and Warsaw have anything in common.

(Except, of course, that Gaza is ruled by a Nazi entity).

jose (not verified)

Thu, 02/03/2011 - 10:12

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Hey we now got two antisemitic "-1" cowards!
There was a new pseudo epidemic after the last "antisemite cleaning".


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