So from the first moment that I learned about this I have felt a natural empathy with anyone who belongs to any of the groups that were defined by the Nazi's as less than human. If it can happen once then it can happen again and we must never let our guard down against Anti-Semitism. We also need to recognise that millions of 'gypsies' and hundreds of thousands of gay people and political dissidents were also wiped out in the camps and it is every bit as important that their memory is kept alive by preserving their rights.
That isn't however the end of all rational thought about what Hitler did. Nor is it the end of any criticism of anyone who belongs to any of those groups who suffered. Rather it is a call to arms to maintain a fierce determination to never let the victims be forgotten and never let the experience be repeated. It should motivate us to never let any race be defined as inferior and never let any group of people to be excluded from the ranks of those who are fully human and deserve to be treated as we ourselves wish to be treated.
Which is why I am such a fierce critic of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. I fully buy the argument that Israel is not the worst state in the Middle East. The Saudis win that contest for me followed by some of the nasty little dictators who claim to be socialist but lock up and torture anyone who dares question their actions such as Assad. Israel does have properly disputed elections, does have a degree of press freedom and does offer some protection for women's rights and allow for some degree of diversity. Provided, of course, that you are not Palestinian. Then you are told which of the representatives you elected are acceptable. Then you don't have freedom of movement. Then vital goods and services aren't allowed into your shops. Then your economy is deliberately wrecked and undermined. Then the education, the health care, the services which you receive are all vastly inferior because you are considered to be of less worth because of your race. Then your land is taken from you to build settlements for the superior race. Oh, and then you run the risk of being bombed and shelled into oblivion by a highly efficient army equipped with weapons coming from the UK and the USA.
When there is a part of the world that allows rights and freedoms to one part of the population and denies it to others it is not a place which can be said to be honouring the memory of the dead in Auschwitz and the other camps. It is a place which is betraying the central message of never again. Instead of ensuring that we will never out group a people, never define them as less than human, never think their children are worth less than ours it is a country which has decided, as a matter of policy, that one set of people are not as good as another. It is a state - or rather a pretence of two separate states - that has more in common with the deep south of the USA before civil rights or with apartheid South Africa than it is a place that lives up to the ideals of some of the early Zionists.
In these circumstances the moral ground has shifted. Israel has moved from being a progressive force and a place where a socialist idealist might wish to volunteer to work on a kibbutz into becoming a deeply worrying place where one section of its citizens is using its power to oppress another people. Too many of its people are moving from pride in their religion into a fanatical belief that God chose them so they are superior and the others don't count for much.
Anyone who cares about the right of Jewish people to exist and to live decently now has an obligation to spell out the obvious reality that it is not possible to have it both ways. You cannot proudly insist that the holocaust must never happen again and then allow settlements that amount to ethnic cleansing. You can't be against racism in all forms and watch passively as extreme groups force through policies based on a belief that God only chose one people.
Israel is currently surviving in a hostile world by virtue of possessing better weapons than its neighbours. This is a very short term strategy that is fraught with danger. On an historical timescale the only reliable policy is not to beat down the opposition but to find a way to co-exist peacefully with it.
Put simply this means that anyone who cares about the future of the Jewish people and considers themselves a friend of the state of Israel has only one honest option. To say openly and clearly and often that the current state of Israel is pursuing policies that are shockingly short sighted, oppressive and represent a betrayal of the decent values that so many Jewish people hold to.
Friends have to be honest. Israel is turning itself into one of the racist oppressor states that it once denounced so proudly. Those of us who are utterly confident that we will never allow ourselves to be anti-Semitic need to stand up and be counted and say it clearly. Israel as a state needs to change and change quickly before it slips even further down the road of adopting policies that many of its founders would have utterly despised. Remember the awful truth. Many Germans started out thinking that they had a Jewish problem and it could be solved by a bit of resettlement. When you start denying the humanity of one part of the local population it can end up in some very nasty outcomes indeed.