Combating antisemitism is the model for stamping out hatred in Britain and forging inter-communal cohesion, two leading Merseyside politicians told Sunday’s Board of Deputies meeting at Liverpool’s town hall.
Praising the Board for its work with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism, Riverside Labour MP Louise Ellman said that anti-Jewish sentiment and the electoral advances of the BNP were issues that resonated beyond national borders.
The Board, she declared, was “standing up for all people to take a positive stand against hate”.
Mrs Ellman is the first MP for some years to become a deputy, joining the Board recently as a delegate of the Jewish Labour Movement. The Board’s president, Henry Grunwald, believes her involvement will enhance its political influence.
The other keynote address on Sunday was by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Alton, who supported Holocaust remembrance as a prototype for promoting interfaith understanding. He linked the historic persecution of Catholics to contemporary issues such as Darfur and the alienation and radicalisation of Muslims.
“If they fully understood their own history, English Catholics would be in a particularly good position to reach out to young Muslims living in Britain today,” the peer reasoned.
In his president’s statement, Mr Grunwald reflected that the Board’s local election campaign against the BNP had encouraged other minority groups to make their voices heard at the ballot box.
However, the far-right party had gained a London Assembly seat and could be successful in the upcoming Euro-elections, making this “a year of opportunity for the BNP”.
Barely 50 deputies were at the meeting — the Board’s annual regional session — less than half the attendance at its London gatherings.
The low turnout was partly attributed to the early start required of Londoners wishing to travel on the day.
Liverpool was chosen to reflect the Jewish community’s contribution to the city’s European Capital of Culture status and delegates were welcomed by the new Lord Mayor, Councillor Steve Rotherham.