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Posted Tuesday, August 10, 2004

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The Press
Christchurch, NZ, Wednesday, August 4, 2004


Peace offer by Government to Israelis

By Colin Espiner

THE Government appears to be offering an olive branch in its dispute with Israel, leading a parliamentary condemnation of anti-Semitism and issuing fresh criticism of Holocaust revisionist David Irving.

Yesterday, Parliament passed a rare motion condemning anti-Semitism, carried unanimously, that will be sent to the Speaker of Israel's Parliament, the Knesset. The move follows worldwide news coverage of the graveyard attacks on two Jewish cemeteries, which the Government fears may have damaged New Zealand's international reputation.

Yesterday Irving, who wants to visit New Zealand next month, offered a reward for the capture of those responsible for the recent attacks and threatened "the mother of all legal battles" against the Government if it forbade him entry to New Zealand next month.

The British-born bankrupt has posted a $US1,000 reward on his website for information leading to the prosecution of those who damaged Jewish graves and burnt a chapel in two Wellington cemeteries. But the motive for the offer became clear when Irving went on to claim that in 80 per cent of such cases worldwide, "disordered" Jews had been found responsible. The controversial historian was slated by Acting Prime Minister Michael Cullen, who called his views "vomit-inducing" and said nothing Irving attempted in the courts would stop him being turned away at the border.

Speaker Jonathan Hunt said the acts were among the most shocking he had seen in his 37 years in Parliament. MPs voted to deplore the recent attacks on Jewish graves, recalled "the terrible history of anti-Semitism" and condemned violence against Jews "and all forms of racial and ethnic hatred, persecution, and discrimination". Moving the motion, Cullen said it was a sad day in New Zealand that such a declaration by Parliament was necessary. While Irving's visit and the spat between the Government and Israel had been suggested as reasons for the outbreak of anti-Semitism, there was no excuse for the desecration of graves. "They remind us how thin the veneer of society is."

ZwartzDeputy Opposition leader Gerry Brownlee said such "acts of hate" had no place in New Zealand. "They are foreign to us and we must make sure that they are never allowed to take hold." More than 50 members of Wellington's Jewish community attended Parliament for the special reading, and Jewish Council president David Zwartz (left) said later that MPs' comments would be heard loud and clear in Jerusalem.

"I think it helps New Zealand because unfortunately the events have tarnished our reputation internationally. A strong parliamentary statement like this shows the country as a whole doesn't go along with what happened."

Zwartz said Hunt's decision to send the declaration to Israel was a nice diplomatic gesture that would not go unnoticed. With the banning of Irving, the move appeared to be an olive branch. High-level diplomatic ties between New Zealand and Israel were suspended last month after Israel refused to apologise for allegedly sending secret agents here to gather fake passports. Israel recently applauded the Government's decision to refuse Irving admission.

ACT leader Rodney Hide said the Government's attacks on Israel could be interpreted as anti-Semitic and New Zealand should cease its criticism of Israel.

Irving floated the prospect of Mossad being behind the desecration of graves. "I know the things they do," he said. "If it turns out to be a Right- wing lunatic or nut then he'll get what's coming to him. But I think there could be something more sinister at work here." Irving said Jews had been "dining out on victimhood" and the Jewish community was "a very small tail trying to wag the dog" in New Zealand.

Cullen said later he was angry that Irving had insinuated the Government was being manipulated by a small group of people. "Underlying that is that long historical paranoia about some notion there is some Jewish conspiracy to run European civilisation. It is just vomit inducing."



Dossier: attempts by New Zealand Jews to stop David Irving's 2004 visit
 FAQ: Answers to frequently asked questions about Mr Irving's visit
Steven Sedley writes a letter on Mr Irving and free speech | The name rings a bell
Jailed gang leaders defer to Israelis jailed by NZ, says paper. Mossad autopsy on bungled NZ operation: graves desecration was unplanned

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