Prescott con­demned over Gaza 'con­cen­tra­tion camp' de­scrip­tion

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY MAR­CUS DYSCH Ad­di­tional re­port­ing Anshel Pf­ef­fer

LORD PRESCOTT’S de­scrip­tion of Gaza as a "con­cen­tra­tion camp" has been con­demned on all sides of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum.

The for­mer Deputy Prime Min­is­ter also wrote in his Sun­day Mir­ror col­umn that it was im­pos­si­ble not to view Is­rael’s ac­tions in Gaza as war crimes and com­pared the Is­raelis to Nazis.

“What hap­pened to the Jewish peo­ple at the hands of the Nazis is ap­palling. But you would think those atroc­i­ties would give Is­raelis a unique sense of per­spec­tive and em­pa­thy with the vic­tims of a ghetto,” he wrote.

Labour Friends of Is­rael direc­tor Jennifer Ger­ber said Lord Prescott’s com­ments were “provoca­tive, fac­tu­ally ig­no­rant and pro­foundly of­fen­sive,” and urged him to re­tract.

Lord Prescott’s com­ments were at­tacked in the House of Lords on Tues­day dur­ing a de­bate on an­ti­semitism in Bri­tain. Con­ser­va­tive peer Lord Leigh said: “It is un­ac­cept­able that many opt to use this con­flict as a pre­text for an­tisemitic prej­u­dice, some­times through the ve­neer of anti-Zion­ism by plac­ards and rants in our own high streets, in­clud­ing the re­cent Mir­ror ar­ti­cle.”

He added: “Many Jews in this coun- try feel that their se­cu­rity is threat­ened and their safety prej­u­diced.”

Com­mu­ni­ties Min­is­ter Lord Ah­mad said com­par­isons be­tween the Holo­caust and Gaza had no place in the protests.

Plans were an­nounced on Mon­day to pub­lish a par­lia­men­tary re­port into the up­surge of an­ti­semitism. Labour MP John Mann, chair of the All-Party Par­lia­men­tary Group Against An­ti­semitism, said: “We must learn some lessons to en­sure that Mid­dle East ten­sions do not play out on the streets at home.”

For­mer For­eign Of­fice diplo­mat Lord Wright used the Lords de­bate to sug­gest peo­ple should “ac­cept that much an­ti­semitism is a re­ac­tion to the ap­palling Is­raeli treat­ment of its Arab neigh­bours”.

In Wales, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood called on First Min­is­ter Car­wyn Jones to urge David Cameron to end the sale of weapons to Is­rael. Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans was among those who dis­played a Pales­tinian flag at a 1,500-strong rally in Cardiff .

Else­where, Brazil and Ecuador re­called their am­bas­sadors from Tel Aviv. Is­raeli For­eign Min­istry spokesman Yi­gal Pal­mor said Brazil “re­mains a diplomatic dwarf”.

In the United States grass­roots ac­tivist group J Street has po­si­tioned it­self more closely with main­stream Jewish or­gan­i­sa­tions than dur­ing Is­rael’s Cast Lead op­er­a­tion five years ago, sup­port­ing the IDF op­er­a­tion, but rais­ing con­cern about civil­ians on both sides.

In Is­rael polls showed that Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu’s high ap­proval rates had slipped slightly, an in­di­ca­tion of the frus­tra­tion of the pub­lic at his re­luc­tance to ex­pand the op­er­a­tion. Eighty-seven per cent of the Is­raeli pub­lic sup­ported the mil­i­tary ac­tion.

PHOTO: AP

Lord Prescott: “provoca­tive”

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