Christchurch, NZ, Wednesday, August 4,
Peace offer by
Government to Israelis
THE Government appears to be
offering an olive branch in its dispute with
Israel, leading a parliamentary condemnation of
anti-Semitism and issuing fresh criticism of
Holocaust revisionist David Irving.
Yesterday, Parliament passed a rare motion
condemning anti-Semitism, carried unanimously, that
will be sent to the Speaker of Israel's Parliament,
the Knesset. The move follows worldwide news
coverage of the graveyard attacks on two Jewish
cemeteries, which the Government fears may have
damaged New Zealand's international reputation.
Yesterday Irving, who wants to visit New Zealand
next month, offered a reward for the capture of
those responsible for the recent attacks and
threatened "the mother of all legal battles"
against the Government if it forbade him entry to
New Zealand next month.
The British-born bankrupt has posted a $US1,000
reward on his website for information leading to
the prosecution of those who damaged Jewish graves
and burnt a chapel in two Wellington cemeteries.
But the motive for the offer became clear when
Irving went on to claim that in 80 per cent of such
cases worldwide, "disordered" Jews had been found
responsible. The controversial historian was slated
by Acting Prime Minister Michael Cullen, who
called his views "vomit-inducing" and said nothing
Irving attempted in the courts would stop him being
turned away at the border.
Speaker Jonathan Hunt said the acts were
among the most shocking he had seen in his 37 years
in Parliament. MPs voted to deplore the recent
attacks on Jewish graves, recalled "the terrible
history of anti-Semitism" and condemned violence
against Jews "and all forms of racial and ethnic
hatred, persecution, and discrimination". Moving
the motion, Cullen said it was a sad day in New
Zealand that such a declaration by Parliament was
necessary. While Irving's visit and the spat
between the Government and Israel had been
suggested as reasons for the outbreak of
anti-Semitism, there was no excuse for the
desecration of graves. "They remind us how thin the
veneer of society is."
Opposition leader Gerry Brownlee said such
"acts of hate" had no place in New Zealand. "They
are foreign to us and we must make sure that they
are never allowed to take hold." More than 50
members of Wellington's Jewish community attended
Parliament for the special reading, and Jewish
Council president David Zwartz (left) said
later that MPs' comments would be heard loud and
clear in Jerusalem.
"I think it helps New Zealand because
unfortunately the events have tarnished our
reputation internationally. A strong
parliamentary statement like this shows the
country as a whole doesn't go along with what
Zwartz said Hunt's decision to send the
declaration to Israel was a nice diplomatic gesture
that would not go unnoticed.
With the banning of Irving,
the move appeared to be an olive branch.
High-level diplomatic ties between New Zealand and
Israel were suspended last month after Israel
refused to apologise for allegedly sending secret
agents here to gather fake passports. Israel
the Government's decision to refuse Irving
ACT leader Rodney Hide said
the Government's attacks on
Israel could be interpreted as anti-Semitic
and New Zealand should cease its criticism of
Irving floated the prospect of Mossad being
behind the desecration of graves. "I know the
things they do," he said. "If it turns out to be a
Right- wing lunatic or nut then he'll get what's
coming to him. But I think there could be something
more sinister at work here." Irving said Jews had
been "dining out on victimhood" and the Jewish
community was "a very small tail trying to wag the
dog" in New Zealand.
Cullen said later he was angry that Irving had
insinuated the Government was being manipulated by
a small group of people. "Underlying that is that
long historical paranoia about some notion there is
some Jewish conspiracy to run European
civilisation. It is just vomit inducing."
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