Antisemitism in Modern Society

Part of Exiting the European Union (Agriculture) – in the House of Commons at 4:22 pm on 20th February 2019.

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Photo of Barry Gardiner Barry Gardiner Shadow Minister (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade 4:22 pm, 20th February 2019

May I just say that I agree with every single word the Secretary of State said? I thought he spoke incredibly powerfully, with great seriousness and with great measurement.

It has always been a mystery to me how anyone can feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow human beings, yet here we are again in 2019 debating history’s oldest hatred. I am glad to have the opportunity to express my opposition to this unique evil and I thank you, Mr Speaker, for presiding over the debate today on antisemitism in modern society.

Antisemitism has led to some of the worst crimes in human history: pogroms, massacres, oppression, dispossession and of course the holocaust—the systematic and bureaucratic attempt to erase European Jewry from existence. Thirty years ago, in the summer of 1989, I travelled through the Berlin wall into what was then East Germany and on into Poland, where I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau. It is one day in my life I will never forget as the full scale—the industrial scale—of the atrocities and mass murders that were committed there etched themselves into my consciousness. Never before and never since has the world seen such a cold, calculated and industrialised plan for the murder of an entire people.

That Jew hatred—for that is what antisemitism is—still exists should shock us; that it is on the rise should appal us. Antisemitism is a cancer that finds new ways, as the Secretary of State said, to mutate and to infect our political discourse, and it is not enough to be shocked and appalled; we have to act to stop this disease poisoning our society.

Before I go any further, I pay tribute to the work of the Community Security Trust and Shomrim in the Haredi community. Those organisations are tireless in their defence of the Jewish community and its synagogues, businesses, youth clubs and schools.