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October 20, 2014 1:15 pm

London Students Reject Nazi Holocaust, Armenian Genocide Commemoration Proposal as ‘Eurocentric’

avatar by Ben Cohen

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Student leader Sarah El-alfy urged students to vote against a motion commemorating the Holocaust and other genocides, including the Armenian. Photo: The Tab

Students at a top university in Britain have voted against holding commemoration ceremonies for a number of genocides, including the Nazi Holocaust and the slaughter of around 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks, on the grounds that do so would be “Eurocentric.”

Last week, a session of the Student Assembly of Goldsmiths’ College – affiliated with the University of London – was presented with a motion that urged students to recognize “the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust, of the other genocides, of totalitarianism and racial hatred” by organizing “commemorative events for students and members of the public on Holocaust Memorial Day (27th of January), on the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism (23rd of August annually), on the Holodomor Genocide Memorial Day Act (4th Saturday in November, Annually) and on Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day (24th April annually.)”

But Education officer Sarah El-alfy implored students to vote against the proposal, rejecting it as “Eurocentric”. El-alfy did not explain how commemorating the Armenian genocide, carried out by Muslim Turkey – whose current leadership has lobbied actively to prevent official recognition of the genocide in Europe and the United States – could be considered “Eurocentric.” Nor is the Goldsmiths’ Assembly apparently aware that the Nazi Holocaust severely impacted the 415,000 Jews who were residing in North Africa during the period of Nazi rule.

However, one leading London-based Jewish analyst told The Algemeiner that the proposers of the motion may have erred by not including other, more recent genocides as candidates for commemoration, most obviously Rwanda, where around one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were exterminated by Hutu extremists in 1994.

Still, the Goldsmiths’ debate demonstrated that hostility to Zionism was a principal reason behind the rejection of the motion by 60 votes to just one. Student newspaper “The Tab” collated a number of comments and tweets during the debate, including one from a participant named T. Walpole, who said: “Our union is anti-Zionist. This is a colonialist motion. Vote it down.”

Others suggested that certain students be disqualified from speaking on the grounds of racial origin: “White people should not be proposing motions to condemn genocides without a lot of thought. This does not have that thought.” Another student boasted that the vote against “collectively destroyed” the “self-esteem” of the student who proposed the motion.

“It is important for Holocaust commemoration to address its universalist and its specifically Jewish messages,” Dave Rich, Deputy Communications Director of the Community Security Trust, the official Jewish communal body dealing with security, told The Algemeiner. “It is entirely appropriate to include more recent genocides that have taken place inside and outside Europe, while not expanding the definition of ‘genocide’ so widely that it becomes effectively meaningless. And all Holocaust commemoration events should have Jewish sensitivities and concerns at their heart.”

The Goldsmiths’ vote came one day after the National Union of Students, the national body representing students in the UK’s higher-education institutions, voted against a motion condemning Islamic State terrorism and atrocities in Syria and Iraq on the grounds that doing so would promote “Islamophobia.”

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