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Holocaust Memorial Day

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:36 pm on 24th January 2019.

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Photo of Theresa Villiers Theresa Villiers Conservative, Chipping Barnet 1:36 pm, 24th January 2019

No, I will not.

As well as producing stories of horror, brutality and pain, the events that we are considering today gave rise to the heroism of ordinary people in Albania, as well as people such as Frank Foley and Nicholas Winton, the voluntary groups and church groups who made the Kindertransport possible, and so many others who gave sanctuary and shelter to Jewish people fleeing Nazi atrocity.

Let me, like other Members, pay a heartfelt tribute to holocaust survivors in my constituency. There may be others, but those of whom I am aware include Hedi Argent, Harry Jacobi, Freddie Knoller and Mala Tribich. It is incredibly brave of survivors to be prepared to come forward and tell their stories—to relive those terrible years of suffering. We owe them so much for their role in explaining to successive generations the evil to which humanity can sink, and the importance of doing everything we can to make sure that this never, ever happens again. Like others, I thank the Holocaust Educational Trust, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and the Government for their financial support for holocaust education.

I have been campaigning against antisemitism for about 30 years. More or less the first day I set foot across the threshold of this building was to lobby my MP to highlight the plight of Jewish refuseniks in the Soviet Union, who were unable to practice their faith in freedom. I am sure you, Madam Deputy Speaker, will remember the debate in April on antisemitism; it was one of the most moving debates I have ever been present for in this place. It was a chilling reminder that the menace of antisemitism is still with us. It is truly shocking that Chuka Umunna has stated that the problem with antisemitism in Labour is now so severe that the party has passed the threshold for being deemed to be institutionally racist. As colleagues have pointed out, this is a problem on many parts of the political spectrum, and it is completely unacceptable.

Antisemitism has mutated, taken on new forms, and gained a lethal new lease of life with social media. It has also been given new life by the militant anti-Zionism of the radical left, so today is a time for all of us to make a commitment once again to root out antisemitism wherever it emerges, and to say loud and clear that we will never, ever tolerate this vicious form of racism.