Holocaust denial is an industry: Lord Pickles

HOLOCAUST denial is prevalent today, UK Special Envoy for post-Holocaust issues Lord Pickles told a Glasgow audience.

"There's a whole industry out there that says that the Holocaust didn't exist or the numbers were greatly exaggerated," Lord Pickles said at Wednesday's event in Garnethill Synagogue, organised by the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council.

"That's why it's so important that we get the chance to create the narrative on it.

"About two years ago, I went to Treblinka - a terrible place.

"There was a group of Israeli children there, singing songs and I found that very moving.

"I took a photo and tweeted it. Within 20 minutes, I received a tweet saying that no one had died there and that it had just been a transit camp."

Speaking about antisemitism, Lord Pickles said: "If you had told me five years ago that we would see the level of antisemitism were are seeing today, I would have laughed at you.

"That's why we had to put through the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism.

"It has had an electrifying effect on British politics and we were the first country to adopt it - just pipping Israel.

"The Labour Party leader wanted to have the freedom to say that Israel and the Nazis were one and the same thing; that Israel is an apartheid state; that Jewish people were not loyal to their country because of a dual loyalty to Israel.

"Israel is a fully-functioning democracy where Arabs and Jews have the same voting rights.

"It's one of the few places in the Middle East where citizens can sue the government and where gay people can meet together in a bar without fear of being thrown off the roof.

"That's why we pushed through the definition."

Lord Pickles told the audience about the Holocaust memorial and learning centre, for which he and Ed Balls are co-chairmen of the cross-party memorial advisory committee, that is to be built beside the Houses of Parliament.

Lord Pickles said: "It will be a reminder to both Houses that they have the power either to oppress or to protect.

"That's why it's so important that it's physically located there."

The speaker was introduced by Dr Paula Cowan, Holocaust educator, author and IHRA delegate.

Dr Cowan said: "I've been involved in Holocaust education and research for more than 20 years now.

"You come across some very fine people in Holocaust education and one of them is our speaker."

Scottish Jewish Archives Centre director Harvey Kaplan gave Lord Pickles a guided tour of the centre.

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