Dear Stuff Editors,
We share Ben Kepes’ emphasis on clear language, and so we object to his unclear inferences in today’s Stuff OpEd.
Ben Kepes doesn’t mention which of MP Golriz Ghahraman’s protests offended him. We can only reply on the basis of our own experience. We are aware of two protest actions to which he might refer. Perhaps they were typical. 12 Green MPs stood on the steps of Parliament in May, to protest Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and request Parliament’s recognition of the State of Palestine. MP Ghahraman hosted an evening at Parliament to highlight Israel’s illegal detention of Palestinian children in its military jails.
We spoke at both of those events. Neither the Holocaust nor antisemitism were themes. Thus far, Kepes rather than Ghahraman is linking the Holocaust with Palestine. Please cite specifics or leave Ghahraman out of your argument.
Do loudly decry the use of Holocaust or Nazi references to protest COVID public health measures. We agree that those references are wildly inappropriate, designed to shock and sadly to normalise extremism. COVID disinformation took root and was cultivated offshore, long before it was grafted onto our issues. It is absurd to link or source this to the Green Party of Aotearoa.
To protest that offensive language, you need the addresses of Donald Trump, Q-Anon and co. We’re with you in that protest when it is properly directed.
We also share your objection to a language of false equivalence on the matter of Palestine. We have written in search of a language that neither hates nor falsely equates.
Finally, in the interests of precision please correct your language. Gazan Palestinians are not being “treated… poorly” or “subjugated.” Their land is occupied, and two million human beings live behind a blockade instituted by one of the most powerful armies on the planet. They live deprived of their most basic human rights. Read a current, comprehensive summary by the UN Special Rapporteur A/76/433.
As profoundly as you feel protective of the truth of your family’s experience in the Holocaust, you must not do a disservice to Palestinians’ equal human rights: the right to life and medical treatment, freedom to move, collective self-determination. Please make your point without discrediting the protest of others. Your memory and their daily reality are not in competition.
Marilyn Garson and Fred Albert
Co-Founders, Alternative Jewish Voices