We’ve been sent a transcription of PSC Chair Hugh Lanning’s speech at the PSC AGM where he tries to justify, on the grounds of racism, anti-Semitism and prejudice, the expulsion of ex-PSC Chair, Dr. Francis Clark-Lowes.
To support the PSC EC decision Lanning quotes Dr. Clark-Lowes saying.
“I said I was proud to call myself a Holocaust denier – it is the capital ‘H’ I believe we must question.”
Clearly here Clark-Lowes adopts a genuine, universalist attitude. By denying the Holocaust its capital ‘H’, the Brighton academic rejects the primacy of Jewish suffering. Of course one would expect the UK PSC to be primarily concerned with Palestinian suffering but, alas, this is not the case. Clark-Lowes’ stand has provoked all the usual PSC/hasbara agitators.
Similarly and tragically, Lanning, who, in recently stating his and PSC’s adherence to the principle of Two States, betrayed not just the Palestinian cause, but also the most basic humanist and universal ethical code, framed in international law, which guarantees to Palestinians (and anyone else in similar circumstances), the right of return.
Lanning also quotes Dr. Clark-Lowes as saying…
“to be precise, I’ve ceased to believe in the six million figure, the planned extermination programme and the mass killings in gas-chambers.”
A bit more problematic perhaps. Or is it?
Dr. Clark-Lowes is an academic, a student of, and authority on, German-Jewish relations. Of course , like anyone else, he can be right or he can be wrong. That’s not the point. The real issue is this: Is this essentially academic matter to be judged by the PSC EC or even the PSC AGM? Can the PSC decide how many Jews perished in the holocaust and in what manner? Are these not subjects for historical research? Should they really be considered political questions? And consider this: If the AGM of the PSC can determine the past by ‘popular vote’, how can it protest the Israeli Knesset determining the nature of the Nakba by the same means?
It’s pretty simple. The past does not belong to politicians, activists or anyone else. It is there for us to visit, revisit and revise – and those who oppose such an approach – whether Zionists, anti Zionists, Likudniks or even the PSC Executive Committee – are the enemies of truth, justice and peace and therefore of all humanity.
Lanning concludes, “…it was on these grounds that the Executive Committee determined that Dr. Clark-Lowes’ membership was not compatible with the objectives of the PSC…..PSC stands in opposition to racism, including anti-Jewish prejudice. “
I couldn’t find in Francis Clark-Lowes’ words a single trace of “racism or anti-Jewish prejudice.” But Lanning knows better.
“It was clear to the EC in this case that there was racism based on a clearly-stated expression of anti-Jewish prejudice. I’d go further: Holocaust denial with a big or a little ‘H’ is racist and anti-Semitic.”
Here I find myself in some agreement with Lanning. I don’t doubt that Holocaust denial may, in some cases, be driven by anti-Jewish feelings. But in Francis Clark-Lowes’ case this is clearly not so. The Brighton academic, ex-PSC Chair and scholar of Jewish studies, clearly opposes the Holocaust religion, the oppressive primacy of Jewish suffering, and Talmudic-style censorship practised by Lanning, PSC EC and their Zionist overlords – Harry’s Place and the Jewish Chronicle . Dr. Clark-Lowes is no racist nor is he an anti-Semite and the PSC has singularly failed to prove that he is.
Over the years I’ve heard some Palestinian friends suggest that Palestinine solidarity activists should, mainly for tactical reasons, avoid any questioning of the Holocaust, and I understand their concerns. They say:
‘We’ve enough to deal with without taking on the Shoa as well’.
PSC’s Hugh Lanning, however, thinks otherwise: “It’s not a tactical issue as alleged in the correspondence; it is a principle issue. Holocaust denial has no place in the fight for a free Palestine. Our campaign is based on justice, human rights and international law.”
Someone should remind the PSC EC, and Hugh Lanning in particular, that the suppression of free thought and speech is incompatible with justice, human rights and international law . And they should ask themselves why an academic and leading solidarity activist should not be entitled to express his thoughts and explore Jewish identity, Jewish ideology and even challenge the ‘primacy’ of Jewish suffering. And one other question: Why has the PSC located itself in the front line of the Israeli Hasbara campaign in Britain?
In the last two years, the PSC EC has systematically expelled and marginalised leading Palestinian thinkers and solidarity activists in the UK and it was this, ahead of the AGM, that catalysed our founding of deLiberation as an alternative intellectual and activist platform.
Unlike a PSC that supports the Two-State solution, we at deLiberation simply support the right of Palestinians to determine their own future and, most important of all, we welcome open debate on the matter. Unlike the ‘secular’ PSC we are not afraid of Islam, Judaism or any other religion for that matter. And also unlike a PSC that bows shamelessly to Zionist pressure, we promise to fight Israel and its lobbies unceasingly.
On the most crucial and controversial matters, deLiberation will always provide open discussion and fresh analysis.
It is constantly bleated from certain quarters that the term ‘Jewish power’ is racist. How can you attribute power to a heterogeneous group like Jews?
But let’s think a moment about the use of the word ‘power’. Does anyone have a problem with us talking about ‘the power of the media’? Or, in some countries, or in the past, ‘the power of the church’ or ‘the power of the mullahs’?
Or, what about this in the Communist Manifesto? ‘Communism is already acknowledged by all European Powers to be itself a Power.’ Furthermore, Marx, I believe correctly, identified the capitalist class as being the greatest power in modern society, but no one seems to think this concept unethical, even if they disagree with it.
Communism is, in modern terminology (though not, I seem to remember, in Marx’s) an ideology, and indeed we often talk about ‘the power of an ideology’. Some may think this is figurative; I don’t.
A number of us have been maintaining for some time that Jewishness is also an ideology. So why not Jewish power? The heterogeneity of Jews does not mean that they have nothing in common, and that they cannot act collectively. If it did mean this, then Jews would not be a recognisable group. This is, indeed, exactly what some wish to maintain.
But to say that you belong to a group which is unrecognisable is a strange concept. It smacks strongly of wanting to have your cake and eat it. Vanish when you’re under attack. Emerge to exercise enormous power when you’ve silenced your critics.
It is the ‘enormous’ which worries me. I have no objection to a minority group having a reasonable level of power in relation to the power environment in which it lives. But when a group’s strategy for survival becomes the equivalent of ‘full spectrum dominance’, that is a problem. And not only for non-Jews.