In an Antisemitism Policy Trust webinar on Thursday, CFI Parliamentary Chairman (Lords) Rt. Hon. The Lord Pickles discussed the evolution of antisemitism in recent years and what he has done to combat it, in his role as the UK’s Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues.
The webinar was entitled: ‘The Holocaust and Antisemitism: Denial and Commemoration in Today’s World’.
Speaking to Danny Stone MBE of the Antisemitism Policy Trust, Lord Pickles said that he had been involved with anti-racism “for as long as I’ve been a member of the Conservative Party”, and became in involved with the Jewish community after visiting for the first time in Israel in 1980.
He said that since that visit it has been a “love affair – I just love the country, I love the people… the innovation and the determination”.
He added: “I think you can judge a country as you can judge a person – by their friends – but you can also judge them by their enemies, and there’s some pretty unpleasant people who don’t like Israel”.
On the subject of how antisemitism is evolving, Lord Pickles said that it has Holocaust denial has become more “sophisticated” and “insidious”, with “pedantic semanticism” over numbers of victims and killing methods that the Nazis used becoming more prominent.
When asked on whether Holocaust denial should be made illegal, Lord Pickles said that “there may be a time where we may have to consider it” but added that currently UK legislation in place has been reasonably effective.
He added that “all the more unpleasant antisemitic Holocaust denial sites are hosted in the US, the land of the free, ironically, because they enjoy a certain level of protection”.
On the new Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre, Lord Pickles said: “We are working hand in glove with the Imperial War Museum and we will produce something that people will be immensely proud of”.
Lord Pickles underlined that the location of the Memorial will be next to Parliament: “As it’s the obvious place to put it. If anything has defined the last century and continues to define this century, it’s the Holocaust. The Holocaust changed Europe, the Holocaust defined the geography of Europe, the Holocaust continues to reach not just through the survivors but in contemporary genocides”.
He said: “Parliament is the last bastion against tyranny. What I want is for people who work in the Lords and in the Commons – MPs, peers, and people who just work there – to look out and to see the Memorial, and to recognise that a legislature has a choice: it can either oppress its citizens or it can protect them. You need to remember that it was a compliant legislature that passed the Nuremberg Laws”.
Watch the full webinar here.