Ex-Cabinet Minister Robert Jenrick has revealed he recently received a letter telling him to “teach his ‘Jewish Zionist wife’ to ‘put out fires'” – adding the sender had “intended to burn our house down and cremate our children.”
Opening Thursday’s Holocaust Memorial Debate in Westminster Jenrick gave the personal insight into modern day anti-Jewish hatred as he spoke in the House of Commons.
At the end of a debate in which 40 MPs across all parties spoke, Jenrick said the Jewish prayer – Oseh shalom bimromav – telling parliamentarians he was reciting it “in honour of the six million souls who perished in the Holocaust.”
In an emotional speech he told MPs: “Some of us here have been on the receiving end of antisemitism—I know the Member for Barking (Dame Margaret Hodge) has on many occasions.
“I recently received a letter telling me to teach my “Jewish Zionist wife” to “put out fires”, as they intended to burn our house down and cremate our children.”
The former Communities Secretary began the three-hour long debate, because, he revealed, its original sponsor, Dame Margaret Hodge was at home recovering from Covid.
The MP for Newark, who is married to an Israeli, and whose children are brought up as Jews, added:” We use this day to fulfil a solemn obligation, an obligation of remembrance: to never allow the memory of those who died in the holocaust to be forgotten by anyone anywhere in the world. ”
“Today, the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, we remember a dark stain on human history, the greatest evil perpetrated by man against man in the long catalogue of human crimes.
“Today, we pay tribute to those who survived and, for all these years, have borne witness to that evil and have served humankind in doing so.
“Today, we honour and remember the memory of the allied forces, including the 3.3 million British servicemen who left hearth and home, suffered appalling casualties and freed a continent from the grip of tyranny.
“We pay tribute to the memory of those non-Jewish heroes and heroines who saved countless lives—those people who the people of Israel call the righteous among the nations. In an age of indifference, they acted. In an age of fear, they showed courage and their memory is an example to us all.”
He added: “I have talked about my own family, many of whom perished in death camps in what today is Ukraine, but two of who miraculously survived—my children are their great-grandchildren.
“Had the right hon. Member for Barking been present, she would have shared with us the experience of her brother-in-law, who is gravely ill.”
Following Jenrick, Labour’s Lyn Brown said:”May I say how sorry we were to hear of his family’s recent experiences? He has solidarity on the Opposition Benches against those racists.”
Andrew Percy, the Tory MP for Brigg added: “Why is this debate necessary?
“As other Members have said, people visiting any social media platform over the past couple of years will have found antisemitic posts linking covid and the development of vaccines to Israel, to Jews, to the classic international conspiracy.
“We have seen, as has been referenced, the sickening sight of people on anti-lockdown protests wearing yellow stars.”
The Harrow MP Bob Blackman referenced this week’s attack on Jewish shopkeepers in Stamford Hill – with a video of the incident and a police investigation taking place – showed that “antisemitism is rife in our society today.”
Other MPs to make well-received speeches included Naz Shah, the Bradford Labour MP, who spoke of the impact a visit to Yad Vashem had on her.
Shah told MPs:” My visit to Yad Vashem will stay with me for all my days. Hearing colleagues mention their experiences is heartening but very saddening. Six million Jews were tragically murdered in the holocaust, millions of others were murdered and many became displaced.
“To truly say ‘Never again,’ we must remember these events every year, if not every single day.”
Christian Wakeford, the Bury South MP, who recently defected from the Tories to Labour, also received praise as he spoke in detail about some of the personal stories from survivors he had heard.
He said:”Earlier this week I was in Kyiv, in Ukraine, on a European Jewish Association delegation to Babi Yar, which was the location for the largest mass grave of 100,000 Jews who were killed one by one. There was no gas chamber; they were all shot. Their only crime was being Jewish.
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