By Geoffrey Paul
January 21, 2010
Do you feel under "constant attack"? Do you feel "more frightened and threatened than at any time in your lives?" That's what Jewish friends are telling Baron Mitchell of Hampstead (Parry Mitchell if you knew him before 2002 when he was ennobled) and it is what he told the House of Lords last week during a curious mini-debate on "Tolerance, Democracy and Openness." Lord Mitchell, chair of the Weizmann Institute Friends in the UK and the Coexistence Trust, which promotes good relations between Muslims and Jews, told his fellow peers that there were campuses Jewish students preferred to avoid and many instances on campus where stickers saying "Death to the Jews" were posted and removed only slowly.
Recalling the anti-Semitism that his own mother had experienced, Lord Mitchell told the House that "Before the war, some of our leading authors, poets and academics were openly anti-Semitic. Our leading public schools thought that they were being liberal when they imposed a 10 per cent Jewish quota on admissions. Indeed, some still do."
This woeful tale stimulated Lord Graham of Edmonton, a fellow Labour peer and veteran of the co-operative movement, to inform the House that: "One of my cousins is Miriam Stoppard. She was the daughter of my Auntie Jenny, who was the sister of my father, and she married Tom Stoppard. Her mother married Sid, who was a Jew, and they became Jewish. The other daughter, my cousin, was Hazel. She married Preston King and her daughter is Oona King. I am therefore fully alive to the problems of the Jewish race and sympathetic to the points of view that have been made."
If you are passing by Westminster on a cold winter's afternoon, drop into the Upper House. It can be very warming and there is rarely a queue.