Friday, 12 April 2019

Attacks on Roma must be condemned in the same way as anti-semitism.

In the mists of the row over alleged Anti-Semitism within the Labour Party , comes news that a Labour councillor suspended for allegedly saying ‘Hitler had the right idea’ about travellers.

Bob Murray, who sits on Denbighshire Council, allegedly went on to say, “Has anyone got any gas canisters?” in the now deleted post.
Mr Murray denies writing the comment and says his account may have been hacked.
North Wales Police said it is investigating the post as an “alleged hate crime”
He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: 
“I put a post on Facebook informing residents of Denbighshire council’s sensible response to a small group of travellers in my ward.
“I only stated the facts to avoid any misinterpretation as this can be a contentious subject for many people.“I am absolutely nauseated by the post and quite upset really that my good name has been drawn into this.”
His Facebook account appears to have now been deleted.
Labour MP Chris Ruane, whose Vale of Clwyd constituency covers the council ward, said he was “appalled” and would ensure a “full investigation is carried out”.
A spokesperson for Friends, Families and Travellers, a charity that works on behalf of all Gypsies, Roma and Travellers, said: 
“Over 500,000 Roma and Sinti people were murdered during the Holocaust.This kind of dehumanising language is utterly unacceptable and incompatible with Labour Party values and our shared values as a tolerant society.
“The alleged comment that ‘Hitler had the right idea’, if made by Councillor Murray, shows that he is absolutely unfit for office. All political parties must speak out against anti-gypsyism within their ranks.”
A Labour Party spokesman said they take “complaints about discriminatory and threatening language extremely seriously”.
Cllr Murray will sit as an independent while he is suspended from Labour.
Is there a particular problem in Denbighshire?
Nine years ago  A Welsh Mayor had to  apologised over comments he made about Hitler and travellers at an equalities meeting.
There were claims councillor Mike Eckersley said he believed Hitler had the “right idea” about moving travellers out of the country.

But Cllr Eckersley, mayor of Prestatyn, denied this and
claims that was not the thrust of what he was trying to say at a Denbighshire corporate equalities meeting.

At the time I wrote.

"If Councillor  Eckersley had made his comments about Hitler and the Jews then he would have been condemned by a far wider number of People but we often ignore such attacks on Travellers espicially those who are Roma.
Te extermination of Romanies was started as early as 1933 while camps were being established by the Nazis to contain Romanies at Dachau, Dieselstrasse, Mahrzan and Vennhausen. The vast majority of Romanies were to suffer the same indignities as the Jews. The Society for Threatened Peoples estimates the casualties at 277,100.] Martin Gilbert estimates a total of more than 220,000 of the 700,000 Romani in Europe, including 15,000 (mainly from the Soviet Union) in Mauthausen in January–May 1945.[28] The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum cites scholars that estimate the number of Sinti and Roma killed to lie between 220,000 and 500,000.[2] Dr. Sybil Milton, a historian at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Research Institute, estimated the number of lives lost as "something between a half-million and a million-and-a-half"  see this on (Wikepedia) for more.And yet it is largely ignored and when France insinuated a program of deporting thousands of Romanian and Bulgarian Roma as part of a crackdown on illegal camps in the country.and  Romanian citizens have the right to enter France without a visa, due to their countries of origin being in the European Union and although to its credit the Leaders of the EU protested, and some pointed out that it had echoes of French collaborators deportation of Roma during the second World War it still was not treated on the sane level as Antisemitism.After the War there was a feeling of intentional guilt over the Holocaust and perhaps there was a reflection by governments and  people who realised the appalling discrimination against Jews in our own countries but  Roma received very little sympathy of this when we look at International Holocaust day we do not remember the fate of the Roma".

To what extent anti-semitism  is a problem within the Labour Party is a question that must be addressed, together with how we can all avoid making anti-semitic, statements , when criticising the state of Israel in its appalling behaviour in Palestine, something that very few states would avoided   facing  international criticism if it was nit seen as a major Western Ally in the region. Which is the real reason for the support for Israel not any "Jewish conspiracy" as some Anti-Semites claim.

However much of the wording of the alleged Anti-Semitic remarks , seem to me to pale (though still vile), to the abuse laid on Roma and other Travellers.

I am not making any excuses for those participating in Anti-Semitic rhetoric, but we should condemn abuse towards the Roma to the same degree.

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