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We must confront Anti-Semitism

AFP/Tolga Akmen

This speech was originally given by the author in the House of Lords.

My Lords, in a recent interview, my noble friend Lord Sacks said that,

“The hate that begins with Jews never ends with Jews”.

Anti-Semitism is a virus that singles out Jews but which then spreads its hateful contagion to other minorities and to vulnerable groups, who are all too easily scapegoated.

The noble Lord, Lord Popat, reminded us how Pastor Martin Niemöller, having failed to speak out against the rise of Nazism, described how a democratic nation with, nominally, millions of good citizens, succumbed to the virus of anti-Semitism, paving the way for the Holocaust.

One who of course did speak out was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed by the Nazis. He famously said:

“Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act”.

Never let that be said of any of us.

There is an urgent need to confront anti-Semitism and to ensure that vibrant and inspiring educational learning hubs are created that challenge the rising generation to see the link between the Holocaust and contemporary forms of genocide, and to see the links between anti-Semitism and racism.

As recent events have underlined, we must urgently redouble our efforts in combating this hateful virus that, yes, invariably begins with the Jews, but never ends with them.

About Lord David Alton of Liverpool

Profile photo of Lord David Alton of Liverpool
For 18 years David Alton was a Member of the House of Commons and today is an Independent Crossbench Life Peer. He began his career as a teacher and, in 1972, while still a student, he was elected to Liverpool City Council as Britain’s youngest City Councillor. In 1979 he became the youngest member of the House of Commons and, in 1997, and when he stood down from the Commons, he was appointed a Life Peer. His motto on his Coat of Arms is taken from the Book of Deuteronomy: Choose Life.

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