Psc Agm – a Crushing Defeat for Gilad Atzmon and the Anti-semites

This is a cross-post from Tony Greenstein’s blog.

The 30th Conference of PSC promised to be one of the more controversial PSC AGMs and it certainly lived up to it. Entering the conference, who was there giving out blue badges commemorating the massacre at Deir Yassin, but the eminence grise of the holocaust deniers, Paul Eisen – neo-Nazi apologist extraordinaire.

Despite his fulminations against what he calls ‘Zionism’ Eisen is remarkably similar to them. The Zionists exploit the holocaust for their own purposes and Eisen exploits the massacre of Palestinians for his own purposes, i.e. denial of the holocaust and rehabilitation of the Nazis.

The first item on the agenda was a closed session at which the appeal of Frances Clarke Lowes against his expulsion was to be heard. Last April, Francis declared on the Brighton & Hove PSC Discussion List that he was proud to be a holocaust denier. For his pains he was expelled from Brighton PSC and not one voice was raised in his defence in Brighton PSC. I reported his statement to the Executive and sometime in May he was also expelled from national PSC. Francis however had the right of appeal to the national conference and chose to exercise that right.

The speech is printed, in a highly edited version, on (who else?) Gilad Atzmon’s site.

It is fair to say that Clarke-Lowes speech did him no favours. It was extremely anti-Semitic, talking about the ‘Jewish narrative’ and speaking about Jews as a group with common properties. He openly stated that the holocaust was a myth (something Atzmon has not included in his version of the speech). People literally gasped as they heard him describe the holocaust as a ‘myth’ and a number of people told me that if he hadn’t been expelled they would have resigned.

The speech from the Executive, from Hugh Lanning, was superb, moving and to the point. It ended by asking conference not to let evil enter our hearts. Conference upheld the expulsion by 165 vote to 35 with 6 abstension. A couple of days ago I had sent an e-mail to the Secretary of PSC, Ben Sofa, saying that in my opinion a majority was not good enough, we needed at least a 3-1 majority. In the end we got 5-1. In fact it was considerably more because I had not realised that the zany Communist Party of Great Britain – Marxist Leninist, the followers of the hereditary oligarchy otherwise known as the ‘socialist state of North Korea’ had taken a decision to oppose any condemnation of holocaust denial. Their amendment to the Executive’s Motion 2 read:

‘This AGM resolves that PSC’s chief focus shall remain that of building support for Palestine and Palestinians and against zionism and imperialism. It is not the PSC’s job to act as thought police on behalf of zionism and imperialism, and we refuse to ask the Palestinians to bend their narrative to one that is acceptable to zionist ears.’

That so-called communists, led by Harpal Brar and his daughter Joti Brar, think that the Palestinian narrative includes holocaust denial or that there is any contradiction between opposing the denial of the holocaust and opposing imperialism and Zionism is truly amazing. But as Harpal Brar made clear in a subsequent speech he cast no doubt on the fact of the holocaust.

In other words most of those who voted against Clarke-Lowes’ expulsion, did so despite his views on the holocaust and primarily as part of a wider disagreement with PSC Executive. And since they brought virtually all of their membership of about 20 to the conference, it is clear even that that stage that those who had any sympathy with Clarke-Lowes were a tiny handful.

After the lunch break we had a guest speaker, Omar Barghouti from the Palestinian Boycott National Committee. He detailed the increasingly open racism of the state, its attacks on the memory of the Nakba, which has been made unlawful, the shameful decision of the Supreme Court to uphold the Citizenship Law which prevents Israeli Arabs from living with their spouse in side Israel.

It must have been a shock when Omar went out of his way to make it clear that anti-Semitism and holocaust denial were no part of the politics of the Palestinians. ‘Ours is an anti-racist cause’ he stated, in case anyone had failed to decipher the meaning of the speech. He generously paid tribute to PSC as the world’s most effective solidarity organisation and to Britain for leading the way in Boycott. It is a compliment that are indebted to honour and repay.

After Omar’s speech the Executive motion 2 and that from Naomi Wimborne Idrissi were taken, along with all 3 amendments from Gill Kaffash/Rosemary Earnshaw, Exeter PSC and the CPGB-ML (above). All the amendments were heavily defeated with less than 20 votes out of over 250 delegates (the votes in the Executive elections indicate there must have been an increase in people arriving by at least 50). Harpal Brar was the only person to speak with any passion or conviction for the amendments. And to his credit he made it clear that of course he accepted that fact of the holocaust without reservation but that there were a number of other acts of genocide we should condemn – that of the Armenians for example, the Iraqis and others. In other words he was speaking agains the Zionists’ holocaust exceptionalism – the idea that the holocaust of Jews is unique. I agree.

Even Gill Kaffash chose not to mention anything to do with holocaust and instead mounted a free speech argument, coupled with the assertion that we stick to Palestine not extraneous issues. But speaker after speaker, with the exception of Exeter PSC’s constitutionalist Dave Chappell (FBU), made it clear that it was not possible oppose the racism that Palestinians suffer from and yet tolerate holocaust deniers and their associates. A member of the Communications Workers Union, whose name I didn’t catch, made this clear in a particularly impassioned contribution, as did Roland Rance from Jews 4 Boycotting Israeli Goods and other speakers.

In the end both the Executive Motion and the one from J-Big were passed with barely 10 votes, if that, against. A humiliating and crushing defeat for the Atzmonites and holocaust deniers in the movement. In my own speech I quoted Atzmon’s statement that Jews who speak as ‘ethnic’ Jews, i.e. who are Jewish simply reinforced Zionism. I asked how is it that people agreed when UNISON passed boycott policy in 2007, that I should speak as someone who is Jewish precisely in order to take head on the Zionist lies that to support the Palestinians is anti-Semitic? I never received an answer from Atzmon’s few supporters. Nor will I. Because the growing number of Jews who are breaking from Zionism, partially or completely, has been growing, especially in the United States. Only the Zionists and the Atzmonites deplore this phenomenon.

It is the Zionists’ supporters – be it the EDL and BNP in this country – or John Hagee of Christians United for Israel – who described Hitler as god’s messenger sent to drive the Jews to Israel, who are the real anti-Semites, and on this of course Harry’s Place is silent.

Many other motions were also passed including one on the disgraceful attacks on Palestinian children by the Israeli military. It is to the eternal shame of the West that they have nothing to say about the shackling and torture of children even, to say nothing of the shackling of Palestinian women prisoners, even while they are giving birth.

There were discussions about the growing successes of the boycott movement, in particular the loss of a £500m contract for Veolia in West London and tribute was paid to Angus Geddes for his sterling work in this area. The closure of Ahava, the Israeli store that traded in stolen goods was also highlighted as was the Judaification of the Negev. Bernard Regan in particular spoke well on the latter and his experiences when visiting Israel with a delegation.

This is also the 30th anniversary of the foundation of PSC and a motion was passed mandating the Executive to organise series of fundraising activities and celebrations. When you consider what we have had to battle against to build an organisation that has now achieved over 5,000 members, then this is indeed a success and tribute was paid to faithful stalwarts like Jeremy Corbyn MP, Baroness Jenny Tonge and Bruce Kent. It is a measure of our success that when I first became involved in Palestinian politics Gerald Kaufman and Tony Benn were both members of Labour Friends of Israel. Today Gerald Kaufman has sponsored an Early Day Motion with Jeremy Corbyn on the racist Jewish National Fund.

And conference also made us, including myself, realise, that whatever disagreements we may have with the Executive, what we have in common is far greater than that which divides us. For the first time ever I even voted for Bernard Regan for the Executive and he accused me of stealing his lines! A special mention should be made of Ben Sofa, the Secretary, who has never wavered in his support for tackling the issue head on.

Because the Executive realised that if the holocaust deniers had got their way, the trade unions – with their history of fighting fascism – would have disaffiliated and we would be a cacophony of noise without influence. Those who argued that we should concentrate on Palestine and Palestinians failed to recognise that that means you must politically engage with the mainstream of society and that you have, at all costs, not to hand your opponents weapons to attack you with.

People were angry at the constant misrepresentation of Palestinian activists you see on sites like Harry’s Place, a place where only rabid Zionists with cloth ears venture. However it was important when attacked by such people to recognise that whilst their accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ may be libels 99 times out of a hundred, there are occasions when we have to sit up and take notice.

So it is that Nahida, an Atzmonite in Liverpool branch, where there have been problems, could write that:

‘The crusade against PSC was ignited by Zionists from outside the movement beginning in September, following an article published on the Zionist hate-website Harry’s Place (HP), and a letter from the Board of Deputies of British Jews” (BODBJ), accusing PSC and its branches of publishing anti-Semitic articles and linking to Holocaust denial websites, which arguably is a crude lie. However, the crusade was sustained, promoted and amplified by insiders with questionable loyalty, who roam freely within the Palestine solidarity movement.’ Following those attacks and demands by BOD of British Jews, certain elements inside the solidarity movement picked up where Zionists stopped. Since then they have initiated a campaign of defamation against Palestinian activists (including myself) and numerous other supporters.’

We, i.e. me and members of groups like J-Big, are the ‘inside’ Zionists as opposed to the honest ones. The problem with the Atzmonites is that their arguments and terms of reference are merely an echo of the Zionist argument. They are the reflection of Zionism in much the same way as Zionism was a reflection of anti-Semitism. And as I pointed out, to most Jews, in the pre–holocaust period, Zionism was considered a species of anti-Semitism.

All in a all a very good day for PSC and the Palestinians and an abject defeat for the apologists for Atzmon and Eisen.

Because I was heavily involved in the debate on specific motions, comments would be welcome both on this and the other issues debated at the conference.

Tony Greenstein

In Memory: Cyril Paskin

from CST

#Cyril Paskin, [PICTURED RIGHT] who died on the 1st November at the age of 89, was one of the founders of the Jewish anti- fascist 62 Group that fought, and crushed, Colin Jordan’s neo-Nazi thugs in the early 1960’s.

In January 1941, Cyril was conscripted into the RAF Regiment and went on to serve in the jungles of Burma, working on the landing strips for General Orde Wingate’s Chindit operation behind enemy lines. He emerged as a decorated and tough Sergeant, but with an abiding love for Burma, its people and its wildlife, which he retained all his life. After being demobbed he returned to civilian life with his mother in Balham, south east London, until his marriage.

In the early 1960s, like other Jewish ex servicemen who had fought to cleanse the world of Nazism and Fascism, he became enraged by the violent anti-Jewish activities of Colin Jordan’s National Socialist Movement. Their 1962 Trafalgar Square rally, called to ‘free Britain from Jewish control’, provided the spark for the Jewish community to organise once again as they had done in the pre and post War years. The Board of Deputies of British Jews, the community’s representative body, preferred a low key response but some younger Deputies and members of the Association of Jewish Ex Servicemen, at a hastily convened meeting in the Ephra Road Synagogue in south east London, determined that a direct and physical response was the only way to beat the neo-Nazis off the streets.

Thus was born the 62 Group, which over the next few years thoroughly penetrated the neo-Nazi groups and their leadership, and confronted them on the streets. Among some of the more memorable clashes were the invasion of the National Front’s inaugural meeting near Victoria which set back their formation by several years; the assault on Oswald Mosley’s headquarters in Notting Hill, where his bully boys had been terrorising Caribbean immigrants; and the removal of Jordan’s regular public platform in Dalston. But what really characterised the 62 Group were its tight discipline and an often unbelievable level of chutzpah.

Police intelligence on the far right in the 1960s was virtually non-existent, but 62 Group information gathering was so good that it led in turn to the apprehension and conviction of a Stamford Hill yeshiva arsonist, and the arrests of several others who had perpetrated hate crimes. It was particularly efficient at unmasking the violent plans of Jordan’s National Socialist Movement, who aspired to develop a neo-Nazi international, and its paramilitary Spearhead offshoot.

In later years, Cyril together with Philip Green and several other 62 Group leaders turned their attention to charity. Starting with the East End boxing club in Arbour Square, they went on to establish a children’s charity, which on Green’s death was renamed the Philip Green Memorial Trust. Over the years this raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to help children suffering from terminal illnesses.

Always one to lead from the front, Cyril was an inspiration to all who worked with him. His rasping voice and his barked commands could easily scare, but he had a heart of gold and his memory will be cherished by all who knew him. He is survived by his wife and two sons, who supported him in all his work.

Tintin in the Land of the Nazis

File:Herge cartoon - Tintin and the Jews.jpg

A couple of days ago there was the most extraordinarily lazy piece of reporting I have ever seen on the BBC TV news. In response to the new Hollywood film of the Adventures of Tintin, the Beeb decided to feature Hergé’s “Tintin in the Land of the Soviets”, his first book. The BBC’s angle was that Tintin in the Land of the Soviets was a very accurate portrayal of life in the USSR.

In fact “Les Aventures de Tintin, reporter du “Petit Vingtième”, au pays des Soviets” was originally published as crude anti-Marxist propaganda in an ultra-conservative Catholic newspaper by a 22 year old cartoonist who had no knowledge of the USSR, and based his story on information given to him by the Mussolini loving proprietor, Abbé Norbert Wallez. The paper, Le XXe Siècle, at that time also employed the future Belgian Nazi collaborator, Léon Degrelle, as its foreign correspondent.

So effectively, the BBC was going out of its way to say that the position argued by Belgian fascsists about the USSR was “surprisingly accurate”. Remember that the demonisation of the USSR was the justification for Belgian collaborators allying themselves with Nazi Germany during the war in what they saw as a “war against Bolshevism”. I know that it was just intellectual laziness on BBC’s part, but they did go to the expense of filming people in modern Russia to support their view, so they had made a serious editorial decision to run with this anti-Bolshevik angle.

There is a paradox at the heart of Hergé’s politics, because Tintin stories, notwithstanding their reflection of colonial steroetypes of their time, are generally anti-militarist, and are cynical about European colonialism. But he responded to the Nazi invasion on Belgium with the highly controversial story “The Shooting Star”, serialised in the pro-Nazi paper, Le Soir. While the obvious anti-Semitism of this work is often commented on, its almost as obvious collaborationism is less remarked upon.

The story describes a panic that the world will be destroyed by collision with a massive meteorite that will destroy civilisation, but it turns out to be a false alarm, and there was nothing to worry about. This was a clear reflection of the hysteria that gripped Belgium as the German forces advanced; and an endorsement of the idea that the Nazi occupation was benign.

Indeed, Hergé’s collaboration with the Nazi occupiers caused him enormous difficulties after the war, and he effectively lost editorial control of his own artistic output.

However, if you take into account the social and cultural context they were written in, as we would with other artists like Kipling, then the Tintin books are still remakable works for children, that have two big plusses; firstly that they feed the imagination, and secondly that they allow children to identify with the young reporter who champions the underdog, and who does succeed in changing the world.

Alison Weir on the “blood Libel”

Alison Weir has the following letter in the Guardian, referring to my article on anti-Semitism and the left:

Andy Newman (Comment, 26 September) attempts to use “an article” by me to support his thesis. It’s unfortunate he apparently didn’t read my 4,765-word article, about which he writes: “Weir implied, with no evidence, that Israel is at the centre of international organ smuggling.” I quoted a speech on international organ trafficking by Dr Nancy Scheper-Hughes – Chancellor’s professor of medical anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, the founder of Organ Watch, and the world’s foremost expert on organ trafficking – in which she stated: “Israel is at the top. It has tentacles reaching out worldwide.”

My article contains considerable additional information on Israeli organ trafficking and its subsidy by the Israeli government, many of its 37 citations from Israeli media. Perhaps for Mr Newman this constitutes “no evidence”. He also claims: “She then explicitly argued that the medieval ‘blood libel’ – that Jews kill Christian children – has a basis in fact.” There is actually nothing related to this in the article he cites. However, I am happy to point Mr Newman to a previous lengthy article I wrote on Israeli organ trafficking in which, near the end, there is a very short section in which I quote Israeli media reports that a prominent Israeli professor of medieval Jewish history had published a book on this subject.

I have written more than 50 articles on Israel-Palestine; the above two are the only ones on organ trafficking. It is disappointing that Mr Newman didn’t fact-check his argument about “anti-semitism and the left”. Of course, if he had done so, he probably would not have had one.

Alison Weir
President, Council for the National Interest”

IT is a rather strange claim from Alison Weir, that there is nothing in her article about blood libel as I refer to her article in Counterpunch in 2009, called “The New Blood Libel, Israeli Organ Harvesting“. It even has “blood libel” in the title!

This is what Alison Weir wrote in that article:

The new “Blood Libel”?

In scanning through the reaction to Bostrom’s report, one is struck by the multitude of charges that his article is a new version of the old anti-Semitic “blood libel.” Given that fact, it is interesting to examine a 2007 book by Israel’s preeminent expert on medieval Jewish history, and what happened to him.

The author is Bar-Ilan professor (and rabbi) Ariel Toaff, son of the former chief rabbi of Rome, a religious leader so famous that an Israeli journalist writes that Toaff’s father “is to Italian Jewry as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.” Ariel Toaff, himself, is considered “one of the greatest scholars in his field.” (22, 23)

In February 2007 the Israeli and Italian media were abuzz (though most of the U.S. media somehow missed it) with news that Professor Toaff had written a book entitled “Pasque di Sangue” (“Blood Passovers”) (24) containing evidence that there “was a factual basis for some of the medieval blood libels against the Jews.”

Based on 35 years of research, Toaff had concluded that there were at least a few, possibly many, real incidents.

In an interview with an Italian newspaper (the book was published in Italy), Toaff says:

“My research shows that in the Middle Ages, a group of fundamentalist Jews did not respect the biblical prohibition and used blood for healing. It is just one group of Jews, who belonged to the communities that suffered the severest persecution during the Crusades. From this trauma came a passion for revenge that in some cases led to responses, among them ritual murder of Christian children.” (25)

(Incidentally, an earlier book containing similar findings was published some years ago, also by an Israeli professor, Israel Shahak, of whom Noam Chomsky once wrote, “Shahak is an outstanding scholar, with remarkable insight and depth of knowledge. His work is informed and penetrating, a contribution of great value.” ) (26)

Professor Toaff was immediately attacked from all sides, including pressure orchestrated by Anti-Defamation League chairman Abe Foxman, but Toaff stood by his 35 years of research, announcing:

“I will not give up my devotion to the truth and academic freedom even if the world crucifies me… One shouldn’t be afraid to tell the truth.”

Before long, however, under relentless public and private pressure, Toaff had recanted, withdrawn his book, and promised to give all profits that had already accrued (the book had been flying off Italian bookshelves) to Foxman’s Anti-Defamation League. A year later he published a “revised version.”

Donald Bostrom’s experience seems to be a repeat of what Professor Toaff endured: calumny, vituperation, and defamation. Bostrom has received death threats as well, perhaps an experience that Professor Toaff also shared.

Let us be clear. In response to the accusation that Bostrom was resurrecting the “blood libel”, Weir did not dispute that the blood libel was relevant, she instead rushed to provide evidence that the blood libel was true.

Weir is in fact referring to discredited claims that historian Ariel Toaff made in an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa in 2007. Bar-Ilan University, where Toaff works, immediately pointed out that the newspaper reports differed from Toaff’s published research; and within days of the La Stampa article Professor Toaff himself told Associated Press “There is no proof that Jews committed such an act.”

The accusations relate to confessions made by Jews under torture in 1475. The Catholic church conducted an examination of the evidence in the 1960s and concluded that the confessions were completely unreliable.

On Gilad Atzmon

This article by me is running in the print edition of the Guardian tomorrow:

Gilad Atzmon, antisemitism and the left

The Palestinian cause is hindered, not helped, when the left fails to notice or confront anti-semitism.

Gilad Atzmon

Gilad Atzmon is a world renowned jazz musician, and a former soldier in the Israeli army, so his advocacy of the Palestinian cause is guaranteed to draw attention. Indeed, a small leftwing publisher, Zero Books, has commissioned Atzmon to write a book on the Jews as part of an otherwise entirely credible series by respected left figures such as Richard Seymour, Nina Power and Laurie Penny.

Read the rest here; and please do join in the debate at the Guardian website.

There Must Be No Toleration for Anti-semites

I am concerned to learn that the anti-Semite, Gilad Atzmon, is writing a book on Jews for the Zero Press, as part of an otherwise entirely credible series of books by respected left figures such as Richard Seymour, Nina Power, Laurie Penny, and Owen Hatherley.

One can only can imagine what its content will be. Those who have been following Atzmon’s attempts to associate himself with the left will be in no doubt that Atzmon is a Jew-hater, and Zero books should urgently reconsider

Vanessa Redgrave’s Oscar Speech

With the 2011 Oscars ceremony almost upon us it’s interesting to look back to 1978, when Vanessa Redgrave was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor in the film, Julia, based on Lillian Hellman’s memoir Pentimento. The film also starred Jane Fonda and Jason Robards and included the then unknown Meryl Streep. Fonda played Lillian Hellman while Redgrave played the part of Julia, Hellman’s strong-willed friend who teachers her the importance of sticking to her beliefs even while Europe descends into Nazi terror.

In the run up to the Oscars ceremony that year Redgrave came under attack from the Jewish Defense League. In addition to starring in Julia, she had also recently funded a documentary entitled The Palestinian in which she voiced her support for a Palestinian homeland.

Redgrave was accused of being an anti-Semite. Confrontation was inevitable and when the Academy Award nominations were announced with Vanessa Redgrave among the nominees a smear campaign was set in motion. Outside the ceremony members of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) staged a demonstration against Redgrave, whilst Palestinian sympathizers demonstrated their support for the British actress.

Here is clip of Redgrave’s Oscar acceptance speech.

Zeitgeist Exposed

In Agatha Christie’s classic crime novel the ABC Murders, the detective Hercule Poirot comes up with the following formulation: “When do you notice a pin least? When it is in a pin cushion. When do you notice a murder least? When it is one of a series of related murders.” I would like to extend Poirot’s thinking to “When do you notice an extremely pernicious and dangerous conspiracy theory least? When it is set in a two hour film amongst many other conspiracy theories.”

zeitgeistOver the last year or so a number of people have told me that I should watch the film Zeitgeist: The Movie. All of these people have been lefties or liberals, and each tells me that the film supplies a good exposé of power in the modern world. These people have been from a wide range of backgrounds and ages, some of them environmentalists, some of them unionists, some of them socialists, some British, some American. The film has achieved massive viewing figures globally, with over 3,000,000 people having watched it on Youtube, and many more on DVD or Google Video. And of all of these people who have recommended the film to me, none has noticed its reliance on the old myth of the “world Jewish conspiracy”.

In this article I hope to expose the film’s relationship to older anti-Semitic texts and myths, and look more closely at how these theories are made to look left-wing or liberal. I wish to explain why this film has become so attractive to people who otherwise are engaged in good struggles against capitalism, against war, and to save the environment. I am particularly interested in the relationship between the film and a book called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, along with its use of other anti-Semitic tropes that have existed throughout modernity. Click to continue reading

Who’s hating whom?

Yoav Shamir’s film about anti-semitism has drawn both praise and criticism. So what’s it like being dubbed ‘the Israeli Mel Gibson’?

Having depicted modern Israeli life in his previous films, a run-in with several critics turned 39-year-old Tel Avivian film-maker Yoav Shamir on to the subject of antisemitism. In a quest to explore what the term means today he travelled from Israel to New York, Poland and Moscow and captured his startling discoveries in a Grierson Award-winning film, Defamation.

Why did you decide to make the film?

Some years ago I made Checkpoint, a film shot in checkpoints in the occupied territories where I’d been a soldier. It got alot of attention and I started noticing that I’d been referred to as “the Israeli Mel Gibson”, antisemitic, mostly by American journalists. It got me thinking about what it means when somebody is called antisemitic. The word is used all around us, it’s like a white noise.

Being Jewish, did you find that odd?

Of course! It’s total nonsense and a very offensive term for me. Before Checkpoint I wasn’t a political person, I was just portraying something important, being honest. I think if we’re doing something wrong we should open up the debate and deal with it.

Why did you choose a playful, almost Louis Theroux style for your film?

I normally do strict cinéma vérité style films where the camera just observes. But everybody I talked to about this film said, “You can’t make it, you’ll never get away with it.” The only way I thought I could tackle it was to do a very personal film. Humour is a great way to keep people interested – antisemitism isn’t a very sexy subject so it’s a way to make people watch and think.

What did you learn?

One striking thing I discovered was how many American Jews – not all of them obviously – are using antisemitism as a way of maintaining their identity. There’s an [American] Jewish guy in the film who says “Israel is our insurance policy”, and for me that’s a very bad thing. When you need to insure your house or car you ask for the maximum security possible. But it doesn’t make sense for the people living in this place to do that. There are other ways of providing security, of living peacefully; it doesn’t have to be through these violent measures.

How representative was the class of schoolchildren that you follow to Auschwitz?

They were just your average, middle-class Israeli pupils. For many of them it was their first time abroad but they were being worked up so much before this trip. Eventually it’s almost funny: two of the girls talk to three elderly Polish gentlemen on a bench and presume what they say is antisemitic. When you’re 16 years old you’re influenced very easily. We went to a pizza place which they didn’t realise was self-service ,and when nobody took their order they got very upset. They thought: “They’re doing it because we’re Jewish, they’re antisemites.”

Did that worry you?

Yes, but it’s not their fault. This tradition of hatred is being passed from one generation to another. A kid in the film says: “What makes us special is that nobody can stand us.” Even the older people, I don’t think they’re coming from a conspiratorial, cynical point of view – they truly believe that. It’s like taking away from people the feeling that they’re hated is so offensive to them it’s almost unacceptable. But these kids are about to join the army with all this luggage.

From the Observer