11 September 2014 – Brussels – The AJC Transatlantic Institute is shocked that a panelist invited by the EU Parliament Human Rights Subcommittee encouraged MEP's to call Israel's actions in Gaza “Holocaust."
"Comparing Israel's self defense in Gaza to the Nazi genocide of six million Jews is an obvious and enormous historical falsehood that belittles the real Holocaust and its real victims and demonizes the Jewish state," said AJC Transatlantic Institute Director Daniel Schwammenthal. "It thus fits the 2005 working definition of anti-Semitism of the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, now called the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. It is disappointing that the Committee Chair Elena Valenciano Martinez-Orozco failed to challenge such an outrage."
At the hearing, Nurit Peled, an Israeli professor of linguistics, said: “Will anyone remember the day the Holocaust of Gaza had begun, or had reached its peak? I doubt it.” She added: "I am a linguist, and therefore very conscious of the power of words. I know that I have just said ‘Holocaust’ – and so it is.”
Peled, who in 2001 received the Sakharov Prize, the European Parliament’s award intended to "honour exceptional individuals who combat intolerance, fanaticism and oppression," urged parliamentarians to also use the term “Holocaust” to describe Israel's actions in Gaza.
"So until someone comes up with a better term that suits exactly these atrocities, this is the term I suggest we use, with all its connotations of racism, cruelty and the indifference of the world," Peled said.
"The fact that this statement was made by an Israeli does not in any way alter, let alone justify, the vile essence of her comments," Schwammenthal said. “It is irresponsible - and ironic - that a linguist would encourage such flagrant misuse of the word 'Holocaust.'"
While a few Members of Parliament said Peled's statement was "inappropriate," the AJC Transatlantic Institute urges the Chair, Ms. Valenciano, to publicly condemn and distance herself from this outrageous comparison. “Neither the children in Gaza nor in Israel are served by allowing anti-Semitism to be expressed in the European Parliament,” Schwammenthal said.