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Holocaust Memorial Day

Part of Wuhan Coronavirus – in the House of Commons at 12:06 pm on 23rd January 2020.

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Photo of Andrew Percy Andrew Percy Conservative, Brigg and Goole 12:06 pm, 23rd January 2020

I cannot disagree with a word that the right hon. Lady says. As she has powerfully outlined in previous debates, she has been on the receiving end of vile antisemitic abuse. This does come from the leadership down. Leadership is needed from all of us, but there should be no doubt about the position of our political leaders.

That is why I agree with the Minister’s comments and urge colleagues to sign up to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition. The APPG sat in Portcullis House for a very long time yesterday to encourage colleagues to sign up. Many still have not done so, but I ask them please to sign up to the IHRA definition, because that is one way in which all of us can demonstrate leadership and show our commitment to zero tolerance of antisemitism.

Of course, antisemitism and antisemitic tropes were the beating heart of Nazism, yet in the past few years there has been a resurgence of holocaust denial, and the holocaust has been distorted and denigrated. Sadly, the context is worsening, particularly online. An American study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that fake news is 70% more likely to be shared on social media than a true story. The Antisemitism Policy Trust and the Community Security Trust have found that the number of searches for “holocaust hoax” on Holocaust Memorial Day is 30% above the average for the rest of the year. If someone types the words “Jew joke” into Google, they will find some of the most shocking and disgusting antisemitic, holocaust-minimising and racist bile they can find. This all occurs in an online space that impacts on our real world, and a particular concern at the moment is seen in the use of gaming, with gamers targeted as a route into antisemitism. That surprised me, but perhaps it does make sense, and we have to do a lot about that.

As the Institute for Jewish Policy Research has shown, the chances are that while only 2.5% of the public may be what we would understand as antisemites, one antisemitic opinion is likely to be held by some 30% of the public. Therefore, the chances of encountering antisemitism in this country are relatively high. That is not to say that 30% of people in this country are antisemitic—of course not—but it is certainly the case that we hear casual things such as, “But of course the Jews do seem to be very wealthy.” The people who say such things would not consider themselves antisemitic, but they will use such a trope. They casually throw it in without, as I say, considering themselves to be antisemitic.