Australia/Israel Review


The Last Word: Vandals of Memory

Jun 28, 2023 | Jeremy Jones

A Stolpersteine (“Stumbling Stone”) memorial for Holocaust victims in Mantua, Italy (Image: Wikimedia Commons)
A Stolpersteine (“Stumbling Stone”) memorial for Holocaust victims in Mantua, Italy (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Many readers will be familiar with Stolpersteine – the concrete cubes with brass plates engraved with the names and dates of life of victims of Nazi persecution and genocide.

Translated as “stumbling stones”, these small memorials are placed in countries across Europe at the last place a Jewish person, and latterly other victims of Nazism, lived freely prior to arrest or deportation.

I personally have stumbled on them in a number of European cities, often when I have been in the company of non-Jews, and know the powerful effect these small reminders of history can have.

According to Deutsche Welle, well over 75,000 of these stumbling stones have now been set in place.

They constitute not only the most extensive decentralised memorial project in the world – but one with particular power to contextualise both Nazi victims and Nazi crimes.

In the German town of Aschaffenburg in June, several stolpersteine were “doused with an unknown, apparently corrosive liquid,” and police were still looking for the perpetrators at the time of writing.

This appears to have been an attempt to erase the memory of murdered victims of Nazism. It was vandalism against history which was as transparent and obvious as it was offensive. 

But there are others who feel a need to deny history, erase relevant information and act as if they prefer a world without inconvenient facts which they would rather were forgotten.

A stunning example of this is the recent Middle East policy issued by the Australian Greens Party.

Imagine, if you will, a treatise on Israelis and Palestinians which does not include any discussion of why a State of Palestine wasn’t established 75 years ago. Add to this the complete exclusion of all of Israel’s subsequent two-state peace offers.

Remove regional considerations, including the declared genocidal intent of Iran on one side and the Abraham Accords on the other, in case they challenge the narratives that Israel has no reasonable security fears and anyway does not belong anywhere in the region.

Reading the Greens’ policy, one imagines an Israeli entity appeared out of nowhere and decided that it would engage in occupation of another people’s “land, water, airspace and resources.”

This evil entity is engaged in ongoing colonisation, practises apartheid and is particularly cruel to children – and is even responsible for making it harder to end the climate crisis. Yet the Greens graciously oppose all forms of violence (although terrorism or military threats such as those from Iran are never mentioned) – but do support an untrammelled “right of resistance”.

The Greens aren’t just pouring acid on the historical record and the facts of the contemporary situation – they are bringing shovels to uproot reason and truth, seeking to supplant it with the poison ivy of anti-Israel propaganda.  

That said, what struck me most when reading the bile that makes up the Greens’ call for “Justice and Human Rights in Palestine and Israel” was their inclusion in it of an attack on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s Working Definition of Antisemitism.

The Definition covers a number of manifestations of antisemitism, with a consistent emphasis on understanding nuance and context.

It stresses that criticism of Israel which is equivalent to criticism of any country is not antisemitic, and that even in situations where there is prima facie evidence of malice, context and all relevant circumstances must be considered.

But the Greens Party felt the need to include an attack on it in an anti-Israel tirade. This prompts one to ask what it is the Greens want to say which they are afraid might be considered antisemitic? And it leads to the conclusion that they want to use double standards, demonisation and historic defamations in their battle to dismantle Israel – the things the definition identified may be evidence of antisemitism in discussing Israel.

This disgusting policy should forever condemn the Greens to the contempt of all thinking people.

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