11 June 2019

Lord Eric Pickles – Why is this Racist Bigot Britain’s Special Envoy on Holocaust Issues?

Pickles is an example of anti-Semitic Zionism – Chair of Conservative Friends of Israel, anti-Gypsy and a defender of Latvia’s Waffen SS

I always felt guilty that the eviction of Dale Farm in October 2011 and the hundreds of Travellers living there had passed me by.  Not for the Gypsies the faux anti-racism that is extended to British Jews in the wake of the Holocaust.
Gypsies suffered just as much as the Jews from Hitler’s Final Solution proportionally and they are still suffering from state racism throughout Europe. See Porajmos: The Forgotten Gypsy Holocaust The World Ignored
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition, to which Pickles is a delegate doesn’t so much as mention the Gypsies and why should it?  There is no Gypsy state or imperial interests to defend.
The Pew Research Centre’s 2016 Global Attitudes Survey  showed shockingly higher anti-gypsy and anti-Muslim attitudes yet we haven’t heard a whisper about the bigotry towards Gypsies and Muslims in the Labour Party. Just one person to my knowledge has been suspended for anti-Roma racism.
If you look at the top 4 countries for racism then 82% of Italians have unfavourable attitudes to Gypsies. The other countries are all in the 60s.  Hostility to Muslims is similar. Hungary is the top with 72% and the other three are in the high 60s.  With Jews by contrast with the exception of Greece at 55% then the next highest is Hungary with 32% and then Italy and Poland with 24%.
You might think that the person who has responsibility for the Holocaust as Britain’s Special Envoy would be especially sensitive to the matter of the Gypsies.  Yet Lord Eric Pickles is a prime example of an anti-Roma bigot.
Pickles it was who was integrally involved in what was the worst post-war example of racism against the Roma and Gypsy minority in this country with the eviction of Dale Farm in 2011.
Members of this Traveller community had bought up the land on which they lived.  They had settled down and their children were going to local schools but many of the residents and the local Basildon Council resented their presence because they were Gypsies.
The excuse to evict them was that the land was within the green belt. They were deemed an eyesore or a ‘blight’ and evicted using hundreds of police thugs and bailiffs. Yet today developers are buying up this land in order that they can build on it.  What is good enough for developers was not good enough for Gypsies.
It was therefore with a view to assuaging my guilty conscience that I visited the Exhibition on Dale Farm at the Tate Modern with a friend. I am glad that I did because it filled in a lot of holes.  Not least about who was culpable for what happened.

The eviction cost Basildon Council £18m which was a lot of money for the Council at a time of austerity. Who should step in to help them but the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles. He provided £9m in order that the evictions could go ahead despite the Dale Farm residents appeal to Eric Pickles to stop eviction

Vanessa Redgrave, a Unicef goodwill ambassador who lent her support to the residents, said clearing the Dale Farm site in Essex breached United Nation's children's rights and said she was “appalled that such an eviction can be upheld by our government”. None of this however moved Pickles, whose concern over the Holocaust is strictly confined to Jews and Israel.

Pickles started off his political life as Leader of Bradford Council where he achieved a reputation as a savage cutter of services and a populist right-winger. When he became Community Secretary under Cameron he took the axe to local government. His Localism Act 2011 was alleged to give powers back to the people but almost immediately he approved a planning application that allowed a massive gas plant in Gloucestershire in the teeth of opposition of the Tewkesbury Planning Committee, 12 parish councils and 1,000 local residents.
Those at Dale Farm never forgot Pickles and what he had done and the following year they tried to evict Pickles from his office. However he had a large group of Metropolitan Police there to protect him and assault the demonstrators. (Dale Farm protesters target Pickles 19.10.12. Express) Protesters' chants rang out: "One, two, three, four, Eric Pickles out the door, five, six, seven, eight, let's evict the racist state." And who was their representative but the Holocaust toting Pickles who has dined off those who died in the Holocaust.
Pickles also demonstrated himself to be a Christian bigot when he tried to overturn a High Court decision that councillors could not be forced to attend Christian prayers. His excuse was that ‘Militant atheists should 'get over it' and accept UK is Christian. Pickles forgot that unlike Israel, religion should not intrude into civic and political life.
It is therefore natural that a bigot and racist like Eric Pickles should be Chairman of the Conservative Friends of Israel.  Pickles is also a patron of the pro-Israeli ‘charity’, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism. Pickles was also the person who moved to depose the radical Black Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lotfhur Rahman in an early display of his racist bigotry.
As the United Kingdom Special Envoy for post-Holocaust issues you might think that Pickles would be ultra careful not to have anything to do with fascists and apologists for the Nazi era. After all isn’t that what the IHRA all about? It would seem not.
In 2009 a controversy blew up over the decision of Tory MEPs to leave the mainstream Christian Democrat European Peoples Party to join the far-right European Conservative Reform Group. The EcrG was chaired by a former fascist, Michal Kaminski of the far-Right anti-Semitic Polish Law & Justice Party, ‘whose anti-Semitic outbursts in the past have been well documented’ . Even Jonathan Freedland, a strong Zionist, wrote that  Once no self-respecting politician would have gone near people such as Kaminski. Self-respect is the least of Pickle’s worries.
The ECRG contained people like Roberts Zile of Latvia’s For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK party. Every March Ziles goes on a demonstration/ march commemorating the veterans of Latvia’s Waffen SS. It is true that only a minority, between 20% and one-third were volunteers but the fact is that they fought on the side of the Nazis. These annual marches contain primarily fascist and nationalist elements that are virulently anti-Semitic.
Roberts Zile MEP 
In David Miliband’s speech at the 2009 Labour Party Conference he accused Pickles, who was Conservative chairman at the time, of being
a defender of the Latvian Fatherland and Freedom party (with which the Tories are now allied in the EU) – despite the fact that its members attend commemorations for the Waffen-SS.’
In response Eric Pickles according to the Guardian suggested that ‘the Latvian Waffen-SS were only conscripts fighting for their country, and to say otherwise was a Soviet smear.’
Pickles deliberately ignored the fact that not only was a substantial minority of Latvia’s Waffen-SS eager volunteers, but they included veterans of pro-Nazi death squads who had already taken part in the first phase of the Holocaust. The mere fact that this march commemorated those who had fought with Hitler should have been enough for Pickles. 
Monica Lowenberg, whose paternal family, had been murdered in the Libau and Riga Ghettos by those who later joined Latvia’s Waffen SS, attended the March 2012 demonstration in Riga. She told in an open letter how
At the Monument of Freedom in the center of Riga where the SS lovers congregated last year... I was jostled, harassed and made to feel unwelcome. I was told by a number of young Waffen SS supporters that even though my grandfather was born in Libau (Libava), Latvia and all of my Latvian Jewish family had lived for generations in Libau, until they were brutally murdered in the Libau massacres of 1941 and Riga Ghetto of the same year, I had no rights to be in Latvia as I was Jewish.’
Even worse
‘another party comrade of Mr Zile told the Latvian parliament that LNNK has always been against the trial of Konrads Kalejs and other Latvians accused of Nazi crimes. Kalejs was a close assistant of Viktors Arajs, chief of the bloody Arajs Commando, responsible for guarding and finishing off those Jews who were still alive in the ditches into they fell after mass shootings. Some survived and tried to escape but the Latvians were on hand to kill them.’
The Arajs Commando worked alongside Einsatzgruppen A, the most murderous of the four death squads that operated in the wake of the Wehrmacht in Operation Barbarossa the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. They took part in mass executions in Riga Ghetto. The first transportation of 1,000 Berlin Jews to Riga along with 24,000 members of the Riga Ghetto were shot on 30th November 1941 by the Nazis and the Arajs Commando, which joined the Latvian Legion which consisted of 2 Waffen SS divisions in January 1943.
Pickles justification for the actions of the Latvian Waffen SS were that ‘they were only following orders.’ Pickles role as an apologist for Latvia’s Waffen SS has not prevented him being a McCarthyist witch-hunter sniffing out any trace of ‘anti-Semitism’ whenever Zionism is on the agenda.
This is Part 1 of an extended essay on this Tory bigot.  Tomorrow is Part 2 and how Pickles tried to get a lecturer at Bristol University sacked for writing an article discussing how the Holocaust is used to deter people raising the question of Palestinian oppression.
On 19th October 2011, eighty Traveller families lost their 10 year legal battle for their homes. Dale Farm: The Eviction, explores this important event from the perspective of artists from different communities.
Artists from the Travelling community and elsewhere will present creative responses to the eviction, aiming to broaden the discussion about Dale Farm and acknowledge that not everyone backed or agreed with the eviction by the local authorities, which the UK government supported and in part financed. Against a backdrop of negative media coverage and social media attacks on Traveller communities, this event also aims to be therapeutic for the Traveller artists’ and the community members impacted by the loss of their homes.
As well as visual art, performance, music and video, audiences will have the opportunity to view unique Traveller archival material from Grattan Puxon’s archive together with artefacts from Dale Farm, removed at the time of the eviction.
This event is curated by Phien O’Reachtigan of Traveller-Art-Performance and Beverley Carpenter of Oblique Arts in association with Tate Exchange Associates 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning.

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