Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers of West London Synagogue writes:
“At our HMD (Holocaust Memorial Day) event last night, we had 4 incredible speakers, one of whom, Dani Neumann, is a member of the congregation struggling to live on disability living allowance and faces constant challenges and hurdles to even do that.”
“She spoke incredibly movingly, and has agreed to let me share her words. The sign of the Black Triangle was reserved by the Nazis for ‘anti-socials’ which as you will see below, included those with disabilities.”
This is what Dani said:
The Common Enemy
The broadway producer Stephen Schwartz once said “the best way to unite a people is to give them a common enemy”
Sad but true. It is never the real enemy but always an under represented group- a minority. And not just a minority but a vulnerable one. Why? Because they are less likely to fight back.
The Nazis began their campaign against disabled people by convincing the Germans of their economic drain.
It is very much economics that are driving current cuts and the campaign is leading to a rise in hate crimes against disabled. We are called benefit scroungers, Spat at on in the street and- in the case of one of my friends- tipped out of his wheelchair by thugs when he was just sitting in the pub having a drink.
I am going to read out a list of statements:
-These people are costing too much money. We cannot afford for them to be alive. Something has to be done
-They are nothing but a drain on recourses’ this is why there is less for you.
-These people must have done something to disserve it. Its there own fault
-We should be able to pay them less – I mean they are worth less
-Why should they have a choice what they do? They should be thankful we are giving them a job
-Look you see here’s an example of one of those people -didn’t we tell you they are all like that the whole group nothing but crocks.
I am sure we can all agree that we find these kind of statements disgusting, ignorant, presumptuous not to mention prejudice.
This is what they used to say about the Jews, Black people, women, Gay people. In fact any one of these statements could have been about any one of these groups at one time or the other. Thank god that kind of thing doesn’t happen today. Right?
Only it does and is happening today.
What? No way not in Britain! We would never let that sort of thing happen to anyone in our country especially a vulnerable group of people.
Let me ask you a question
How many times in the news in the last say year have you seen story’s about “benefit cheats” headlines like 75% of people on the sick fit for work. Benefit scroungers living in million pound houses at the expense of the tax payer and so on…
The government’s welfare reform is happening not because this propaganda is true but because it needs to save money.
Rather than force tax invading banks and corporations to pay what they owe they are working hard, and have at large succeeded, in convincing the country that the resection has been caused by the benefits paid out to the sick and disabled.
The truth is most people with disability who are capable of working already are.
But the ones who cant are being used as the new popular common enemy.
They are being forced to have humiliating and inhuman assessments that are, by the governments own admission not fit for purpose ,flawed and that are performed not by unbiased doctors who rely on medical evidence but by privet companies who’s staff are given bonuses for every sick person they find fit for work.
Here are some facts
-only 0.5% of disability benefit claims are fraudulent.
-70% of those found fit to work by the new welfare reform assessments are later after a long and stressful appeal found to be unfit for work and awarded there benefit.
-The appeals have cost the UK tax payer £80million in the last year alone
-Whilst waiting months and in most case’s years for assessments and appeals the disabled of the UK are forced to live under poverty line. Suffering the humiliation of having to ask and really on charities to cover basic things like food, heating and housing.
-And are subjected to abuse and random unprovoked acts of violence in public by complete strangers
But surely once a person has won there appeal they are left alone in peace to live there life right?
They are recalled a few months later to be given another assessment and start the whole assessment , appeal , award cycle again.
How do I know this is true. Well because of the governments own published statistics and reports. But also because (and I am no longer to embarrassed, to proud or to ashamed to admit it)
I am one of those people.
The Nazi campaign started by targeting not the Jews but disabled people. They where quietly gassed in the first experiments with Zyklon B, these people were comparatively low in numbers, were less likely to be missed, could not speak up for themselves, and had no-one to speak up for them.
Then after a large propaganda campaign that tapped into the populations anger about the country economic state ,the murder of millions begun
long standing prejudice’s like…….
“they think the world owes them something”
“They are a drain on the country’s limited resources”
” they do not work so they are worthless”
“It would be kinder not to mention cheaper to kill them, preferably at birth”
……Are stomach turning yet they are statements I hear from people and politicians every day. Maybe not put quite as frankly or bluntly as that but the underlining argument and sentiment is the same.
We are reminded to day that if you do not speak out against injustice, when you value a person only by how much they contribute to a community economically, Human life is cheeped.
We are taught as Jews to remember the horrors of the holocaust. But why is it so important to remember? Because if we do not we are destined to repeat those horrors again and again.
I hope and pray that when we see the warning sighs , recognize the same patterns that are there time and time again through out the history of human rights atrocities that we will stand up with our fellow human beings and fight against the mob rather than become part of it.
Let us, as Hilary Clinton put it in a recent speech to the UN about LGBT human rights, always be on the right side and not the wrong side of history.