Robert Halfon MP: Anti-Semitism is out in its naked viciousness for everyone to see
Writing for PoliticsHome ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, Robert Halfon MP says the worrying trend by the far Left to "conflate any action of Israel with all actions of all Jews" has had harmful consequences.
Britain is a remarkable country. It is a place of kindness, decency and tolerance. This was evident, only recently, with the burial of six, unknown Auschwitz victims in North London, after the admirable decision of the Imperial War Museum to “afford them the utmost dignity and respect that they were never given in life”.
Yet, despite International Holocaust Memorial Day fast approaching on 27 January, it seems extraordinary that anti-Semitism is on the rise.
I remember being at a synagogue where the rabbi said to the congregation, “Please do not congregate outside when we finish the service because you might get abuse or something even worse.” I thought, “How can it be, in the 21st century, when we thought we had escaped the horrors of Nazi Germany, that Jews are told that by a rabbi in a synagogue?”
Things seem to be changing for Jewish people in the country. We’ve always faced abuse with anti-Semitism from the far Right. What seems to be different now is the rise - and prevalence - of anti-Semitism from the far Left. There appears to be, in some factions of the Left, an accepted belief that all Jews are either Israeli settlers, very rich, or part of the capitalist establishment. These views are often linked to even more sinister conspiracy theories about Rothschild's and the like.
At best, it used to be acceptable to use the fig leaf of “Zionist” or “Israelite” as a cloak for anti-Semitism. Now, anti-Semitism has become so bad that the people who hate the Jews do not even use those terms any more. Anti-Semitism is out in its naked viciousness for everyone to see. As I stated in my speech in the House of Commons, the air has grown tighter for Jews; you feel very hot, you undo a button on your shirt and your mouth goes dry.
With a heavy heart, I genuinely believe that the current Labour leadership is, at best, turning a blind eye to the problem and, at worst, condoning anti-Semitism. I see the membership of dubious Facebook groups, the defence of anti-Semitic murals and the platforms shared with unsavoury characters.
One of the most shameful things I remember doing as a very young child, was to be rude to the German secretary at the physiotherapist I had to see a number of times a week (due to problems walking). This lady had been nothing but kind to me, making jokes and sometimes even giving me sweets. So why did I behave in the way that I did? It was all because I had watched a series about the Nazi Holocaust on television. Suddenly the German adult who had befriended me, became an enemy who I started to hate.
When I watch the behaviours of elements of the Left towards Jews, they behave as I did as a child. They conflate any action of Israel with all actions of all Jews. With much worse consequences.
As MP, I visited Auschwitz with the Holocaust Educational Trust - an extraordinary organisation that we must do more to support.
My trip to Auschwitz taught me that we cannot visit the sins of the fathers on the sins of the children. We must learn from the past but not live in it. But, it must also teach us to expunge hatred and anti-Semitism from the body politic. It cannot be that the oldest hatred is allowed to reinvent itself, predominantly, in the far Left, in the 21st century.