Today is a landmark judgment that has been brought against Alison Chabloz who was convicted of two counts of causing obscene material to be sent and one of sending obscene material. These incidents occurred in 2016. It is another line that is drawn on those who think that freedom of expression entitles them to make grossly offensive and menacing statements: in Chabloz’s case, denying the Holocaust and accusing Jewish people, including Holocaust survivors, of fabricating claims of genocide.
Holocaust denial is far more than a false presentation of history. So-called Holocaust ‘revisionists’ are motivated by their own Jew-hatred. Their aim is to expose the Jewish people to further hatred by making the indefensible claim that Jews are lying about a historical reality which destroyed the lives of more than a third of the world’s Jewish population.
I have seen the impacts of the Holocaust first-hand having visited the death camps in Poland and the Yad Vashem memorial to the Holocaust’s victims. I saw the personal items of those who walked to their deaths in the vain hope that they were having a shower. They were killed because they were Jews. Seeing the shoes, the wedding rings, the photographs and confiscated property left an indelible mark on me. It is our duty to never forget the victims and to educate the generations that come after us about the vicious consequences of antisemitism.
The sad reality is that people like Chabloz are adept at exploiting people and playing off communities against each other to further their malicious aims. Chabloz even attempted to use the national project opposing hatred against Muslims, Tell MAMA, to pursue her vendetta against Jewish people. In 2013 and 2014, she sent written reports to Tell MAMA in the hope that this would lead to the investigation and humiliation of Jewish people for pushing anti-Muslim hatred. In reality, she didn’t care about the Muslim community or the Tell MAMA project. This was a disguised attempt to target Jews, because they were Jewish. In September 2014, when we learned of Chabloz’s disturbing antisemitic views, we cut off all communication. I am glad to see that today justice has been served.
There’s a lesson for all of us here. In the fight against hatred and discrimination, not everyone who offers help and assistance is a friend. Their smiles may hide other motives, reinforcing the need for enhanced due diligence and vetting of sources. Alison Chabloz’s antisemitism and Holocaust denial show her true colours, which run totally contrary to the values of Tell MAMA, which works closely with groups like the Community Security Trust.
That’s why Tell MAMA and Faith Matters have added layers of compulsory internal due diligence checks on all those who communicate or engage with us. Whilst this has increased our admin load, rigorous vetting is essential in today’s world. Chabloz’s attempt to divide the Muslim and Jewish communities has also resulted in us seeking to work ever more closely with Jewish communities in the fight against antisemitism. We are partnering with the Jewish community to ensure that the younger generation understand what antisemitism is and that it is an affront not only to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, but also the dignity of Jewish communities today.
We must send out the strongest possible message that no-one can take sides in the battle against hate. There is no ‘picking and choosing’. In the end, antisemites have no problem abusing both Jews and Muslims – something we must never forget.
To effectively fight anti-Muslim hate we must all of us learn about the unique hatred that is antisemitism. I, for one, have sought to further my understanding of Jewish history, culture and heritage. I think it’s important that everyone travels to the sites in Europe where the crimes of the Holocaust were committed and pays homage to the memories of those Jewish brothers and sisters that were murdered only because they were Jewish. Seeing what the Jewish people endured only 70 years ago has helped me see why we should never allow the flags and symbols of terrorist groups that have a history of kidnapping and murdering Jews to be displayed on the streets of London.
We must protect the memory of the Holocaust, highlight it, shout about it. It’s everyone’s responsibility to tackle anti-Semitism wherever it is found. Hatred against Jews is an attack on our society as a whole and an attack on our common values. It’s our responsibility to show our Jewish brothers and sisters that they are not alone.
Fiyaz Mughal was the Director of Tell MAMA from 2012-2017 and is the Director of Faith Matters