Jewish Society label comments “inappropriate, offensive and vulgar”
A popular student night has sparked controversy by using a joke about the Holocaust in its promotions.
‘Gold Teeth’ advertised its fresher’s week night on websites like Facebook, TicketText and Skiddle by creating a “Gold Teeth Manchester dictionary”, sarcastically defining words like “rave” and “hype”.
The phrase “get gassed” was defined by them as “Gallows humour used by Jews in final hours around the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.”
In a statement, the Jewish Society responded to ‘Gold Teeth’ by saying: “Considering that Manchester is one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse cities in the country, we are appalled that one of the best known club nights would use such inappropriate, offensive and vulgar terms to advertise their night.”
“We at the Jewish society are deeply offended that this sort of language has been used to advertise to new students who may feel ostracised and marginalised within a new university and city.”
“It is in view of ‘Gold Teeth’s’ appalling lack of sensitivity that we believe ‘Gold Teeth’ should publicly apologise for their recent actions, and in good faith show to students their sincerity by joining Manchester Students’ Union’s access courses to ensure that such a disgraceful situation as this never occurs again.”
This comes in a week where Prime Minister David Cameron has launched a new Holocaust commission, warning of a return of anti-Semitism in Europe and stressing the importance that “we do everything possible to make sure that the memory of the Holocaust is preserved from generation to generation.”
It is estimated that six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust as part of the Nazi’s Final Solution: two thirds of the entire European Jewish population.
‘Gold Teeth’, which usually takes place at The Deaf Institute in Manchester, also has ties to the Students’ Union, with a stage at last Saturday’s Pangaea.
Third year Religions and Theology student Melissa Leigh said: “As a Jewish student whose grandparents survived the Holocaust and escaped from Nazi Germany I am deeply disturbed by the insensitive nature of this post. The Holocaust was very real and it should not be taken lightly.”
“The post has really put me off ever going to ‘Gold Teeth’ and I am extremely upset that they have been given a stage at Pangaea. I think the Union has a responsibility to condemn such comments, especially considering that commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day is part of Union policy.”
“I am astounded that the Union would promote ‘Gold Teeth’s’ event as I feel it goes against everything they stand for.”
Grace Skelton, General Secretary of the Students’ Union, said: “The agreement to give ‘Gold Teeth’ a 60 minute set at Pangaea was made by Tommy Fish, the previous Activities and Development Officer.”
“The Facebook page was only brought to our attention a couple of days ago and we were obviously extremely disappointed to see the language used on there.”
“At this stage it is too late to cancel their set, but we will work with them in the future to make sure this doesn’t happen again and if it does, we will reconsider having them on future Pangaea line ups.”
In response to criticism, Marcus Horsley, representative for ‘Gold Teeth’, said that ‘Gold Teeth’ have a Jewish Director and majority shareholder.
He said: “If we remove humour from the remembrance of the Holocaust, we disengage it from life. We forget that the people who were killed were in fact human beings, with stories, loves and jokes.”
“To take humour from the representation of the Holocaust, is to dehumanise what was a very human event.”
“I would like to extend a warm welcome to any members of the [Jewish] society at any of our Gold Teeth events, and would invite any of them to email me personally if they want to continue this discussion.”
However, Emily Carp, a third year Middle Eastern Studies student and Jewish Society convener for the LGBT network, said: “It is wholly inappropriate for people to attempt to trivialise the Holocaust.”
“It could potentially be very isolating for Jewish Students coming to Manchester for the first time to see that club promoters have so little respect for the memories of those who were murdered in Nazi Concentration Camps. It really is just in incredibly poor taste.”
“A ‘good joke’ or ‘banter’ should not be of higher priority than the legacy of genocide.”