CFI Vice-Chairman Andrew Percy MP paid tribute to Holocaust victims and survivors, praised the work of the Holocaust Education Trust and urged for politicians to call out hatred “whenever and wherever”, in a House of Commons debate to mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2018.
Speaking of the record levels of antisemitism in the UK, he said: “It is very sad that in Britain in 2017-18 anti-Semitism and racism at all should be a problem, but new figures revealed by the Community Security Trust last July showed that anti-Semitic incidents against the Jewish community in the UK have reached unprecedented levels—the highest levels of hate crime against Jews since records began 33 years ago”.
Mr Percy called on MPs to guard against the “new smear” that antisemitism is being used as part of a witch hunt, denouncing a campaign which has called for Labour Party members who have been expelled or suspended in connection with antisemitism to be reinstated.
The Brigg and Goole MP underlined: “Let’s just remember what some of those suspensions have been for: they have been for people who have claimed that Judaism wasn’t a religion but a crime syndicate; people who have called Holocaust education in schools a Holocaust indoctrination programme; people who have questioned what good Jews have done; and people who have claimed the Jews financed the slave trade and attacked this very day in which we are debating and respecting today”.
He emphasised: “We have to guard against in the strongest terms those who now seek this new smear against antisemitism. And that’s why given the theme of this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day, words really do matter and that’s why all of us – regardless of which side of politics we are on – must ensure our leaders and we ourselves call this sort of hatred out whenever and wherever”.
Housing, Communities and Local Government Minister, Rishi Sunak MP closed the debate by saying: “The truth that the Holocaust teaches us is that the fight against anti-Semitism, racism, and religious intolerance never truly ends. Every generation must fight it again, and every generation must choose between a common humanity, which is the shared inheritance of all, and the narrow bigotry that sees some as more human than others”.
Mr Sunak paid tribute to former CFI Parliamentary Chairman Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles MP’s work: “It would be remiss of me not to mention a notable absence today, the Prime Minister’s Post-Holocaust Issues Envoy, Sir Eric Pickles, whose passionate speeches those who have attended previous debates will no doubt recall fondly. Sir Eric was the driving force behind the Government’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism, making the UK the first country in the world to formally adopt the definition. As we have heard, the Government are also planning to build a new national Holocaust memorial and learning centre, a project that was kick-started with £50 million of funding”.
Numerous Conservative MPs spoke in the debate, including CFI Vice-Chairman Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers MP, CFI Officers Bob Blackman MP, Paul Masterton MP, and Matthew Offord MP, Eddie Hughes MP, and Bob Stewart MP.
Click here to read the debate transcript in full.