Bristol lecturer investigated by University for saying Jews ‘privilege’ the holocaust

Her remarks have been compared to ‘holocaust denial’

Rebecca Gould, a lecturer at Bristol University has been accused of anti-Semitism in the wake of an article she wrote in 2011 called Beyond Anti-Semitism coming under scrutiny for saying that Jewish people should stop “privileging” the Holocaust.

The article appeared in the American magazine Counter Punch before Dr Gould taught at Bristol and was an assistant professor at the University of Iowa. Much of her criticism is directed at the state of Israel, who she says use the Holocaust to “whitewash its crimes”.

She added: “Israel must find a way of not passing on the crimes the Nazis introduced into the world onto the next generation of its citizens”.

Although a formal letter of complaint was issued against Dr Gould by a student at the end of the last week, the university has launched a full enquiry into the matter due to increased attention.

The implications of this are that the Jewish community should in effect just move on and get over it, which is horrifying.

The Holocaust should be remembered because it was and remains one of the worst and most systematic genocides in history. Dr Gould may have said that her criticism of Zionism does not equate to anti-Semitism, and at face value this is true. Criticising the state of Israel based upon their actions against Palestinians is valid, but you simply cannot say that “perhaps the time has come to stop privileging the Holocaust as the central event in Jewish history”.

There is a reason why the Holocaust gets so much coverage and exposure even today. The horror and destruction that it embodied lives on as the major legacy of Nazism. An ideology based upon hatred and eugenics led to the deaths of 10 million people in concentration camps, and that cannot, and should not ever be forgotten.

What Rebecca Gould calls “privileging” is necessary because by remembering the atrocities that were committed at Auchwitz, Ravensbruck, Treblinka, we ensure that future generations are more mindful of the fact that this can never be allowed to happen again.

Moreover, it must be stressed that Jews were not the only group that were systematically exterminated and persecuted. Roma people, gay people, people with disabilities, political prisoners and prisoners of war to name a few: these groups were all victims of the Holocaust.

And the fact is, to call for an end to “privileging” the Holocaust is to insult these people too.

The fact is, this could happen again.

Trump’s Muslim ban was eerily reminiscent of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, only to be refused asylum at the U.S. Many in the Jewish community have said as much, the same demagogic rhetoric is being used to demonise refugees and minority groups, except this time it is the Muslim community.

Downplaying the impact that the Holocaust has had in Western society is dangerous because of what it represents.

It is the most prevalent example in living memory of the horrors that human beings can inflict on each other. Yes the state of Israel must be held to account for its wrongdoings, but diminishing the importance of the holocaust is not the way to go about it.

Academic freedom is important, but there are some things that are too absolute in their impact.

This was arguably one of the most significant events of the 20th century and to discuss it as an event that is given too much privilege is not only naive but dangerous.

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University of Bristol