Burnside to meet survivor

Julian Burnside.

PROMINENT human rights barrister Julian Burnside (pictured) has accepted an invitation from the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) to speak with Holocaust survivor Moshe Fiszman and attend the Jewish Holocaust Centre following a controversial tweet he shared late last month.

The tweet depicted a photoshopped image of Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton in a Nazi uniform with a cap bearing the “Death’s Head” insignia worn by the SS unit responsible for administering concentration camps.

Alongside the image, Burnside called Dutton “the most powerful MP in Australia, and arguably the least scrupulous”.

Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg deemed the depiction as “despicable … disgusting, and … deeply offensive”, before imploring Burnside to apologise to Dutton, the Jewish community and the community at large.

Burnside has since issued an apology to those offended, but has not removed the image from his Twitter account.

“I did not mention the Holocaust,” Burnside told The Australian.

“My concern is to remind people that the way the Nazis thought, and in particular the way they distorted public opinion to encourage fear and hatred of Jews, is worth remembering these days.”

In a statement posted on his website, Burnside added the distinction that “nothing in the Western world today is equivalent to the Holocaust, which cost the lives of millions of Jews. Australia’s detention centres, onshore and offshore, are not death camps.”

ADC chairman, Dvir Abramovich told The AJN that “all public figures should know better than to exploit the systematic persecution and slaughter of millions of Jews and others to in order to make a political point”.

“We are appreciative that Mr Burnside accepted our invitation, and hope that after hearing Moshe Fiszman’s inspiring story of courage and survival, that he understands the pain that he has caused, and that there is never any excuse for trivialising and diminishing the true meaning of the Holocaust with insensitive Nazi comparisons.”

An inmate of several concentration camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau, 96-year old Fiszman survived starvation, slave labour and a death march during the Holocaust but lost several members of his immediate family.

REBECCA DAVIS