David Cameron: ‘After the horrors of 7 October we must renew our vow – never again’

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David Cameron: ‘After the horrors of 7 October we must renew our vow – never again’

Foreign secretary speaks of both the horrors of the Nazis and those of Hamas in a speech at the Foreign Office's Holocaust Memorial Day reception in partnership with the Israeli embassy

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

David Cameron addresses FCDO HMD reception
David Cameron addresses FCDO HMD reception

David Cameron has used his speech at the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office’s Holocaust Memorial Day reception to draw a direct comparison between the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis and the actions of Hamas terrorists in Israel on 7 October.

Recalling moments in his life that he will “never forget”, the foreign secretary and former prime minister referred to a visit he made to the Auschwitz death camp nine years ago, where he was struck by the “mechanics of death” and the scale of murder” he witnessed there.

He then told the packed hall at the Foreign Office headquarters in Westminster that he had more recently visited Kibbutz Be’eri in the south of Israel, “not far from Gaza”, following the Hamas terror attack.

“You could see the bullet holes in the wall, the blood on the floor, the cupboards where children hid and were pulled out and murdered in front of their parents,” said the foreign secretary, who added the atrocity was “the deadliest attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust.”

David Cameron

Cameron poignantly was wearing a dog tag necklace as he spoke on Tuesday, a symbol of solidarity with those still taken hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

Noting the continued plight of the hostages still held captive by the terror group in Gaza, which relatives present in the room as he spoke, and the upsurge in antisemitism  after 7 October Cameron said: “Clearer than ever before, we stand with the Jewish people, we stand with the state of Israel, and we stand with their right to defend themselves as they go about this terrible war dealing with the legacy of 7 October. ”

Later in his speech, Cameron again stressed:“After the horrors of 7 October, we must renew our vow – never again. That is our solemn duty – today, tomorrow and always.”

But referencing the precarious situation across the globe he added: “Diplomacy is a profession dedicated to building bridges. Strengthening alliances. Promoting peace and freedom.

“But as we are invited to reflect today – freedom is as fragile as it is precious.”

Holocaust survivor Eve Kugler, whose  family was torn apart by the events of Kristallnacht, when she was aged just seven, also met with the foreign secretary at the event, put on in coordination with the Embassy of Israel.

Kugler also addressed the reception, which was attended by communal leaders and politicians from all parties.Also giving speeches were  Lord Pickles, the UK’s Special Envoy for post-Holocaust issues, and the Ambassador of Israel to the United Kingdom, Tzipi Hotovely.

In her speech the Ambassador said the Holocaust remains the “greatest stain” on humanity and noted how the world had vowed “never again.”

But Hotovely added: “This vow feels hollow after the 7 October. Hamas brutally murdered over 1200 innocent people.”

She said the terror group’s barbarity was driven by the same hatred of the Jewish people that fuelled Nazi Germany in the Holocaust, and said both “antisemitism and anti-Zionism” needed to be tackled.

In his speech Lord Pickles also stressed the danger of growing “denialism” of the evidence of Hamas atrocities. He contrasted this trend with similar denialism of Nazi horrors and of other genocides and pledged to work to counter the issue.

Pickles  also referenced the weekly pro-Palestinian marches adding they showed  “useful idiots were prepared to march with out and out racists.”

Cantor David Rome and pianist Leo Nicholson provided poignant musical accompaniment during the ceremony, while Cantor Jonny Turgel recited El Male Rachamim, the Holocaust memorial prayer.

Kellie Edwards, a Holocaust Educational Trust young ambassador also addressed the audience.HMD is officially marked on 27 January each year and remembers the millions murdered during the Holocaust under the Nazi regime, as well as world events that have followed since, with the involvement of both HET and the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.

The FCDO facilitates a number of activities to mark the anniversary and will join a number of UK Government buildings and national landmarks in lighting up on 27 January.

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day 2024 focuses on ‘fragility of freedom’, which aims to highlight how history has taught us that freedoms can easily become restricted and should not be taken for granted.

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