A left-wing activist who defended the daubing of the Warsaw Ghetto with pro-Palestine graffiti has said she should have been “more critical” at the time.
Speaking to the Jewish Telegraph, Novara Media contributing editor Ash Sarkar clarified why she didn’t brand the daubing ‘antisemitic’ while admitting her comments could have been “a lot clearer”.
She faced anger last year for defending Ewa Jasiewicz and Yonatan Shapira, two artists who painted “Free Gaza and Palestine, liberate all ghettos” on the wall of the Warsaw Ghetto.
Sarkar wrote on Twitter at the time: “These words aren’t antisemitic. They’re anti-racist.” It lead to a barrage of criticism and accusations of antisemitism.
She claimed the coverage was “going for Ewa” and that “it was not fair, as it focused on Ewa at the expense of Israeli Yonatan Shapira. It made it seem that what had motivated the act was a deep-set hostility for Jewish people.”
Sarker said on reflection she should have “drawn a line between defending Ewa, criticising the coverage and being more critical of the action itself which I don’t think was well thought out.”
Earlier this week the BBC defended its new documentary on the rise of Nazism featuring a Sarker, following criticism from communal organisations.
The three-part series on Germany’s descent into a Nazi dictatorship, titled ‘Rise of the Nazis’, features dramatic reconstructions and archive footage.
Sarkar features in the series alongside experts such as Professor Sir Richard Evans, General Sir Mike Jackson and Baroness Helena Kennedy QC.
After anger from the Board of Deputies and Holocaust Educational Trust, as well as Sir Simon Schama and Tracy Ann Oberman; BBC spokesperson defended her appearance on the show.
“Ash Sarkar is one of a number of current public figures who feature, alongside representatives from military and legal backgrounds.
“She appears in this film in her role as a self-declared communist and lecturer in political theory and her contribution to the series is solely to illuminate the context and perspective of Ernst Thälmann, the leader of the Communist Party of Germany from 1925 to 1933, who died in a concentration camp in 1944.’”
The decision to interview her provoked backlash, with historian Schama describing the move as “horrifying” – while EastEnders actor Tracy Ann Oberman said it was “upsetting.”
Sarkar addressed criticism, tweeting: “I don’t see why my support for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank should disqualify me from talking about the Communist Party of Germany, but hey, I guess we live in strange times,” she wrote.
“I obviously reject wholeheartedly claims that of antisemitism. But if that’s something others want to say of me, no matter how upsetting, that’s their right.”
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