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Letter from members of Congress to Ambassador Sir David Manning of the United Kingdom (Washington, D.C.), April 19, 2007, regarding a boycott of Israel and suspension of Holocaust education in the U.K. (2 pages)



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Congress of the United States Washington, DC 20515 April 19, 2007 H.E. Sir David Manning Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 3100 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Washington DC, 20008 Dear Ambassador Manning: As warm friends of the United Kingdom, we write to express our deep concern regarding two recent reports concerning events in your country: a decision by the British National Union of Journalists (NUJ) to boycott Israel, and indications that Holocaust education has been suspended in certain schools in the United Kingdom. Showing a remarkable disdain for the truth, and utter disregard for any semblance of fairness, Britain's largest trade union for journalists, by a vote of 66 to 54 at their annual delegates' meeting, called for "a boycott of Israeli goods similar to those boycotts in the struggles against apartheid South Africa led by trade unions, and [for] the [Trades Union Congress] to demand sanctions be imposed on Israel by the British government." Simultaneously ignoring the fact that BBC correspondent Alan Johnston, who was kidnaped five weeks ago by Palestinian gunmen in Gaza, remains a hostage, the NUJ placed sole responsibility for the violence and conflict in the Middle East on the one democratic state in the region that actually has a free press. It would be extremely unfortunate if the NUJ were seeking to appease Johnston's captors with this vote in hopes that Johnston might be released. Such behavior would only beget more violence. We understand that the NUJ is in no way an official body. However, we believe that an official and public response by your government is justified given this group's public stature and its unique potential to use the media to present their bitter and blinded view of a very complex and painful international conflict. We also hope you can clarify for us your government's policy with respect to news reports indicating that some teachers in your country's secondary schools are refusing to teach about the Holocaust due to the perceived sensitivities of their Muslim students. It is our strong opinion that those students who may harbor a bias against Jews, or who may associate the Holocaust with Israeli policies they oppose are, in fact, the people most in need of education on the universal significance of the Nazi genocide against the Jewish people and other groups. Moreover, with the President of Iran aggressively promoting Holocaust denial with a fervor equal only to his calls for the destruction of Israel, it is vital that instruction regarding the Holocaust be PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER part of the curriculum for the current generation of young people, who may not otherwise believe such unparalleled evil could still occur. The tragedy of the Holocaust was a major event if the 20t h Century that must not be overlooked by teachers anywhere in the world. Since the press reports reference a study prepared by your government's Department of Education and Skills, we trust that a response to this problem is already being prepared. We do hope you will be able to share with us some information about how your government is responding. These news reports, though extremely distressing, in no way cloud or confuse our opinion about the people or government of the United Kingdom. We remain utterly confident that the enlightened values our country inherited from yours remain as vital and strong in their native soil as they do our own. We appreciate your attention to our concerns and look forward to your reply. Sincerely,