Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP, urged the British public to “call out” anti-Semitism whenever they see it, during his speech at a Holocaust Educational Trust (H.E.T.) reception in Parliament on Wednesday.
The Communities Secretary spoke at the H.E.T. event launching the English translation of Dr Ernst Israel Bornstein’s Holocaust memoirs, ‘The Long Night’. Dr Bornstein’s daughter, Noemie Lopian, addressed guests at the event, as well as Lord Finkelstein and H.E.T. Chief Executive Karen Pollock.
Communities Secretary Javid said: “We have to object when a line is crossed from legitimate debate to smears and abuse… Ultimately, we have to be prepared to do that most un-British of things – we have to make a scene. Maybe in private, in the media, on Twitter; or on a bus or in Parliament. If we don’t speak out against hatred, it will become normalised and part of everyday life. And once that happens, the consequences will be tragic”.
Mr Javid praised the work of H.E.T. in educating Britons of all ages about the Holocaust: “Thanks to the Holocaust Educational Trust, 100,000 young people a year can say the same. And, thanks to the government-backed Lessons From Auschwitz project, thousands of schoolchildren and teachers are able to visit the most notorious of death camps every year. I accompanied a group in 2011, and it was one of the most emotional, moving experiences I’ve had”.
He said that Dr Bornstein’s ‘The Long Night’ is “an amazing piece of writing but it also contains lessons for us all to reflect on”.
Mr Javid stated that Dr Bornstein’s memoirs are “a reminder that the Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers. It began when hatred and bigotry were allowed to grow without challenge”.
The Commununities Secretary underlined: “We must call out bigotry and racism. We have to object when a line is crossed from legitimate debate to smears and abuse. We have to push back when people lazily reach for glib comparisons that belittle what happened… calling those we disagree with ‘Nazis’ or claiming someone’s actions are ‘just like the Holocaust’.