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Anti-Semitism - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:03 pm on 13th September 2018.

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Photo of Baroness Altmann Baroness Altmann Conservative 2:03 pm, 13th September 2018

My Lords, as I have grown up in this wonderful country, I have never understood how the Holocaust could have happened. My family fled Nazi persecution and I would not be here today had they not done so. I am grateful to this country for having welcomed them. I never understood how European citizens could turn on friends to the extent of being willing to murder them as aliens. This was beyond my comprehension, until the last couple of years. Before that, I had blindly believed that it could not happen again and certainly not here in the UK.

Of course there will always be anti-Semitism and hatred on the fringes of society—minorities filled with hate towards some “other” or someone “different”, perhaps because of their skin colour, their sexual orientation or whatever—but western society seemed to have made huge strides since World War II in eradicating and outlawing such discrimination. For the entire post-war period, Britain has been increasingly an accepting society—until now. All Governments in power in my living memory have been tolerant and welcoming of Jews. I have never felt any threat to my chosen religious beliefs, until now.

I say from the heart that this Government have done much to support the Jewish community. This party on these Benches has shown me absolute tolerance, respect and welcome as a religious Jew. Yes, more is needed to curtail the hatred spread by social media and the hatred still found on university campuses, but the hatred that seems to have spread through political discourse much more recently is truly frightening. I urge noble Lords on all sides of this House to take note that one of our mainstream political parties is led by an anti-Semite.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Popat, for calling this debate and for speaking up. As Edmund Burke said, all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to be silent.