By the time this article is published, the Easter holidays will be over, but Passover will still be in train; it concludes on April 7.
I hope my friends and constituents who share my Christian faith have had a Happy Easter; I wish all my friends and constituents who are Jewish a blessed Passover.
I believe it is important to recall Passover’s origins; it is a holiday that commemorates Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. According to the Bible, the Israelites’ muscle and sweat was used to carve Ancient Egypt’s tributes to itself until God intervened. This time in captivity was one of many periods of tribulation and outright murder that the Jews have endured: in the past century and a half alone, there have been pogroms in Russia, the Dreyfus Affair in France, and the Holocaust during World War II. This is real history: it cannot be wished away or denied. It says much about our present era that there are people who could believe otherwise. After being appalled whenever I see this awful nonsense cross my path, I wonder also if we are so saturated in “fake news” that fact itself, written in the sacred ink of blood and tears, has somehow disappeared into thin air? This is not a matter of left or right, socialist or capitalist, religious or atheist.
There are events that should be burned into our collective memory beyond question or doubt and they shouldn’t be forgotten. The Holocaust happened; to deny it, or even to give the appearance of denying it, gives comfort to those who are in sympathy with those who perpetrated the horror. It continues a persecution that the human race should have seen as a shameful chapter and discontinued. We should remember not only the horrors of Auschwitz, but also the strutting jackboots of Oswald Mosley and his gang of fascists as they attempted to intimidate the Jews living in the East End of London.
We should remember the casual anti-Semitism that often was a feature of even “polite society” in the 1930s; for example, Edward VIII apparently had no problem with visiting Nazi Germany. Not remembering opens the door to other horrors: racism, Islamophobia, and any other form of bigotry that seeks to blame “the other” for the problems of a society. We should be better people than this. The cost of achieving this improvement has been too dear. I am glad the Labour Party has instituted a zero tolerance policy towards anti-Semitism. I was cheered also that on March 29, John McDonnell, our Shadow Chancellor, stated that this would be “eradicated” from our ranks. The Labour Party has always opposed anti-Semitism and always will: we are a movement for all, committed to building a future of equality and justice.
We need to live up to this aim, this principle, and this mission.