22 June 2003
In a letter to British MPs Oona King and Jenny Tongue, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Directorate, Avner Shalev condemned statements comparing Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto.
Shalev expressed deep sorrow and concern “that respected members of the British Parliament chose to compare events in the Holocaust to a long and complex conflict between two nations. Whereas it is legitimate to disagree with Israeli policies and actions, it is grossly illegitimate and malicious to compare them to the most evil and massive crime in modern history in order to heighten the disagreement.
“Your statements completely distort historical facts and context. The Nazis’ worldview claimed that the Jews were the source of all evil and called for a radical solution to the so-called “Jewish problem”. In the case of Israel and Palestine, it is a matter of conflicting claims over territorial sovereignty that has deteriorated into a longstanding conflict. Neither side aims to annihilate the other.
“In the future, it would be beneficial if you would endeavor to avoid using this unparalleled period in history that remains painful to millions of people, as a point of comparison in contemporary political debate. Furthermore, if you are interested in learning about what occurred in the Warsaw Ghetto, we would be honored to have you visit Yad Vashem, where our experts would be happy to present you with the facts as we have learned them from documentary evidence.”