Among Conservative Lords to contribute were CFI Parliamentary Chairman (Lords) Rt. Hon. Lord Pickles, CFI Parliamentary Officer Baroness Altmann CBE, Lord Sterling GCVO CBE, and Rt. Hon. Lord Hunt MBE.
Lord Popat said: “I could never have imagined that I would be standing before you in 2018—in living memory of the Holocaust—speaking about the hatred of Jews in this great country. But it is happening now and I will not go down as one of the good men in history who stood by and did nothing. I refuse to bear witness to hatred as it eats away at our social and moral fabric. I will stand up for my Jewish friends who love this country; who have given so much to this country and who ask for nothing more than to feel protected… I stand here today to say, loud and clear, “Enough is enough”.
He asked in his speech: “There are many Hindu, Christian and Muslim countries across the world, but just one Jewish state. Why is Israel—this tiny strip of land the size of Wales—singled out for criticism with so much intensity and loathing?”
Questioning the motives of those with an “obsessive hatred” of the Jewish state, he asked: “Once you begin to challenge a country’s right to exist; once you take to marching in the streets and on university campuses, calling for boycotts of anything and everything to do with a country; once a whole country becomes the subject of your obsessive hatred; then you have to ask yourself honestly, what is your motivation?”
CFI Parliamentary Chairman (Lords) Rt. Hon. Lord Pickles urged his colleagues to “stand by our Jewish friends” and said that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism was vital because “antisemitism in all its forms is growing right across Europe; it has been accelerated by the growth of ultra-nationalism and its marriage to social media”.
Lord Pickles added that “it is also necessary because of the way that antisemitism has changed and adapted. In particular, it now hides behind, for example, criticism of Israel or support for Palestinian rights. It is less obviously hidden by attacks on Zionism. The repackaging of these old antisemitic tropes is perhaps the most horrible aspect of this”.
CFI Parliamentary Officer Baroness Altmann CBE described the recent hatred spreading through political discourse as “truly frightening”. She said: “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”.
She praised the Conservative Government for its work on combating antisemitism: “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”.
Lord Sterling GCVO CBE said in his speech that he was “humbled by and proud of the contribution to mankind of the Jewish people, from their very early history through the dispersion to the present day” and paid tribute to the thousands of British Jewish soldiers who served in the British Army.
Rt. Hon. Lord Hunt MBE spoke about the “vital work” of the Holocaust Educational Trust, in taking over 40,000 British students and teachers to the former concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. He said: “As the Holocaust inevitably begins to fade from first-hand memory, and as antisemitism suddenly rears its profoundly ugly head once again, the trust is increasingly involved in the broader cause of combating antisemitism. That is a regrettable necessity”.
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