Message to JLM from Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson MP

 

Dear members of the Jewish Labour Movement

I wanted to write to you as the Jewish community prepares to hold ceremonies to mark Yom HaShoah, the Jewish day of remembrance for victims of the Holocaust which took place this week.

In a world full of the evils of humanity, the Holocaust stands as the most evil act of all.

Hitler’s twisted ideology of hate, and the Nazi death machine he created, was designed to exterminate the entire Jewish people.

We must remember the Holocaust and honour those who survived it. The UK’s commitment to Holocaust memory and Holocaust education is a model to the world.

Part of that commitment to memory and education is standing steadfast against those who seek to deny or revise the history of the Holocaust itself – or the events leading up to it. Whatever their purpose. Whatever their agenda. Whoever they are.

But that memory can never be an excuse to ignore antisemitism today. It needs to urge us to be vigilant and to take action.

The date chosen for Yom HaShoah is the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, to remind us of those who took desperate action during the Holocaust, fighting against the Nazis while half-starved and in fear of their lives. If they had the courage to stand up, then non-Jews in Britain must follow their example.

Britain and the allies defeated the Nazis, but antisemitism survived. We still haven’t defeated it and we still need to fight it.

It survived in Poland, where Jews rescued from concentration camps after the War were attacked and hundreds were killed.

It survived in Iran, which held another disgusting cartoon contest a few weeks ago, denying and belittling the Holocaust and spreading hate further.

And it survives, most troublingly, here in the UK - In social media and dinner-table chatter; in our schools and in our universities, in our politics and in our parties.

I'm ashamed of the recent cases of antisemitism in my party. I'm working with the Jewish Labour Movement and the Jewish community to ensure that racists and antisemites have no place in British politics. Together with many colleagues I am backing the JLM proposals for tougher rules.

In Mein Kampf, Hitler’s hateful screed of an autobiography, he claims that Zionism is a scam. Jews don’t really want a state, he claimed. It’s just another Jewish plot to set up a “criminal base” from which to control the world.  Much of the language of today’s anti-Zionism makes exactly the same claims.

The modern miracle of the State of Israel is testimony to Hitler’s ultimate failure, providing a refuge for Jews who fled the Holocaust and anitsemitism.

But Britain’s Jewish community is a testament too. The British Jewish community is vibrant, integrated, positive and gives so much to this country.

British Jews have worked to make the message of the Holocaust into something universal -- to fight all racism, to remember and prevent all genocide, and to have compassion on all refugees.

As Labour’s Deputy Leader, I will fight to ensure that Britain's Jews always feel safe as a key part of this country and my party. I will fight to ensure that Zionism is not used as a term of abuse. Or as a code word for Jews. I will fight to ensure that the right to Jewish national self-determination is preserved and respected. Jews are the target of antisemitism – but I will fight to ensure that they are not left to oppose it alone. I am committed to that fight. Whatever it takes.

Yours,

Tom Watson MP
Deputy Leader