Eminent Hebrew University historian Prof. Yehuda Bauer slammed the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement on Tuesday night, at a speaking event in London at London’s Jewish community center, the JW3.
The Jewish Chronicle quoted Bauer, 90, as saying the BDS Movement does not want “a better Israel, they want no Israel at all.” He made the remark during an interview conducted by Labour MP Tulip Siddiq.
“Now of course, they love Jews. Especially dead Jews. The ones who died in the Holocaust, they’re marvelous, they were terrific. Live Jews is something else,” he was quoted as saying.
Bauer unequivocally equated anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism, describing the former as an empty slogan. “They want to destroy the Jewish state; they want to destroy it because it’s a Jewish state. That means you are an anti-Semite.”
Bauer also delved into Nazi history, just one day after a repeated claim by suspended Labour member Ken Livingstone that Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism, a comment which prompted leaders of British Jewry to call on Labour to expel the politician.
According to the Chronicle, the Israeli scholar explained that before the Nazis had planned the Holocaust, they wanted Jews to emigrate – if not voluntarily then forcefully. Because the Zionist movement in British Mandate Palestine wanted to rescue Jews, they reached an agreement for the emigration of a limited number of Jews.
He asserted that anyone interpreting this agreement, or similar ones such as the Kindertransport to Britain, as meaning collusion with the Nazis “simply doesn’t know what they are talking about.”
Bauer’s visit to the UK was sponsored by the British Yachad organization, whose mission is to build support in the British Jewish community for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On Wednesday Bauer spoke at a Yachad conference and addressed groups of students, as well as giving an interview to the BBC Radio 4 Today program on modern anti-Semitism.
Following the meeting, MK Siddiq, wrote a short blog post about her encounter with Bauer, calling the opportunity to interview him “an honor.”
The exchange between Bauer and Siddiq, who is Muslim, included discussion about transcending boundaries to reach peace. Siddiq is the vice-chairwoman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism.
“I spoke with the preeminent scholar of the Holocaust on his background, his life’s work, and his views on contemporary anti-Semitism,” she wrote. “Specifically focusing on whether the nature of the Holocaust’s perpetrators could be described as ‘unique,’ and the Shoah’s legacy with regard to further genocides, Professor Bauer spoke to a transfixed, near-silent audience for the entire hour during which he replied to my questions. At 90 years old, his passion and conviction for articulating his views on these crucial issues remains undiminished.”
Bauer is professor emeritus of history and Holocaust studies at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and serves as an academic adviser to Yad Vashem. Born in Prague in 1926, he moved to Israel with his family in 1939. He received the Israel Prize in 1998.