Antisemitism in Modern Society

Part of Exiting the European Union (Agriculture) – in the House of Commons at 6:44 pm on 20th February 2019.

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Photo of James Frith James Frith Labour, Bury North 6:44 pm, 20th February 2019

Antisemitism is trending again. Antisemitism is rising again. Antisemitism is an attack on Jewish people, and when our Jewish communities speak of the fear that they hold, we must listen. When there is anxiety and anger, we must learn and act on these determinations. Whether we are talking about Macpherson, #MeToo or the motion today, this begins with believing the victim and their powerful testimony. It strikes me as well that, as we consider antisemitism, all too often the haters hate harder when it is a woman, so let me condemn both antisemitism and the misogyny we see.

The endless values that we share bring me here today—values of equality, fairness and social justice. Let me also say that it is sometimes more important to single out the calling-out of antisemitism than it is to simply smooth the issue over with a catch-all view of being against racism—just as sometimes I tell each of my children by name that I love them.

Humbly I say that I have no easy answers, but my own perspective guides me. I am the son of a Church of England minister. I am not Jewish, but my wife is. Her Jewish heritage is one of the many things I love about her. We are raising our young family in the traditions of both our faiths, both our cultures. That pursuit is not borne easily. Time spent with mixed-faith couples before my wife and I got married highlighted to us both the anguish that many people face when love and relationships collide across cultures to form family. I am not here just to defend Jewish people from the rising attacks or to call out antisemitism, though I do both; I want to celebrate and affirm Judaism and Jewish people and the contribution that they make to our society, our country and to my life.

My mixed-heritage family is a picture of the messy, beautiful multiculturalism of our country and of modern Jewry. It is also a portrait of hope—I hope—for a better future. For me, this is not about party; it is primal and my principled, personal belief. Modern love, relationships and family across races, religions and cultures can blur the old lines of religious dogma, intolerance or hate-filled political division. Rooted from here, even the most steely glare of these ugly politics can begin to soften.