Israel has condemned a “shameful” event hosted by the British House of Lords in which Jews were blamed for the Holocaust and Israel was compared to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
The session marked the launch of the Balfour Apology Campaign ahead of the Balfour Declaration centenary. The 1917 declaration pledged British support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
A spokesperson for the Israeli embassy said the gathering “gave voice to racist tropes against Jews and Israelis alike.”
According to the Times, an audience member was applauded after suggesting Hitler only decided to kill Jews after being provoked by anti-German protests led by a rabbi, Stephen Wise, in New York.
“[He] made the boycott on Germany, the economic boycott… which antagonized Hitler, over the edge, to then want to systematically kill Jews wherever he could find them.”
The speaker also said Rabbi Wise told the New York Times in 1905 there were “6 million bleeding and suffering reasons to justify Zionism.” This quote is often used by Holocaust deniers to suggest the figure of 6 million Jews later killed by the Nazis was a myth.
The audience member – reportedly a member of the anti-Zionist strictly Orthodox Neturei Karta sect – also compared Israel to IS.
“Just as the so-called Jewish state in Palestine doesn’t come from Judaism. This Islamic State in Syria is nothing with Islam. It is a perversion of Islam just as Zionism is a perversion of Judaism.”
Another audience member said, to applause: “If anybody is anti-Semitic, it’s Israelis themselves.”
David Collier, a blogger who attended the session, says he “witnessed a Jew-hating festival at the heart of the British estate.”
The event run by Baroness Tonge, a former Liberal Democrat MP who sits as an independent, and the Palestinian Return Centre.
Tonge reportedly made no attempt to challenge the comments.
She has run into trouble for her own anti-Israeli outbursts and resigned as the Lib Dem whip after claiming the state of Israel was “not going to be there forever.”
The House of Lords event was also run by the Palestinian Return Centre.
Campaigners are calling on Britain to apologize for the Balfour Declaration and show remorse for its “past colonial crimes” in Palestine.