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Anti-Semitism - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:19 pm on 13th September 2018.

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Photo of Lord Pannick Lord Pannick Crossbench 2:19 pm, 13th September 2018

My Lords, there is an old Jewish joke. Manny and Issy are facing a firing squad. Manny says, “Please can I have a final cigarette?”. Issy whispers to him, “Ssh. Don’t make trouble”. I am very pleased that the Jewish community and all our many friends, including the noble Lord, Lord Popat, are making trouble about the scourge of anti-Semitism. There have always been anti-Semites and I am afraid there always will be. But what is so alarming is that, in this great country—a country that gave refuge to my great-grandparents when they were fleeing pogroms at the end of the 19th century—the leadership of one of our major political parties is incubating anti-Semitism.

When the leader of the Labour Party calls representatives of Hamas his friends, despite the fact that their policy is to kill as many Jews—I emphasise Jews—as possible, when he applauds graffiti that show the working man oppressed by Jewish bankers, when he expresses support for a vicar who suggests that Mossad was responsible for the 9/11 outrage, and when he contends that British citizens who are Zionists do not really understand this country, it is not surprising that his shameful conduct encourages the release into the political atmosphere of a poison that is polluting our civil society. No politician who tolerates, far less encourages, such a virus is fit for public office.