The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand has condemned recent statements by a Member of the New Zealand Parliament that Israel is engaging in a genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza:

“It is not only a grotesque distortion of the term ‘genocide’, but it is inaccurate, inflammatory and fuelling hate speech in New Zealand.

“Genocide is a highly emotive term increasingly used with reckless abandon, guaranteed to incite and often deliberately used to trigger strong reactions.

“We need to be clear: the United Nations definition of genocide is about the intention to target a group to exterminate them – based on their race, religion, ethnicity or nationality.

“This was the case in Darfur, Rwanda, Kosovo, the Rohingya in Myanmar and, of course, the Jews in Nazi Germany.

“There is no factual evidence that ‘genocide’ is Israel’s intention in regard to Palestinians. In fact, the Palestinian population has actually increased over the last 70 years, as has the number of Arab Israelis.

“The Holocaust Centre of New Zealand is mindful of the human rights of the Palestinian people, but to equate events in Gaza with genocide is a monumental assertion without any substantive basis in fact.

“It is also a deeply irresponsible action; in tandem with accusations of genocide, we have seen a rise in hate speech of the worst kind against members of New Zealand’s Jewish community.

“We invite any Member of Parliament who makes such accusations to meet with us directly to discuss genocide, rather than shouting emotive slogans at public rallies.”

– Holocaust Centre of New Zealand chair Jeremy Smith.