London has a duty and responsibility to stand together with its Jewish citizens

November 24, 2016 23:06

Last week in Parliament, I felt deeply honoured to give my maiden speech before the House of Commons. I felt honoured to celebrate the rich political history, the tapestry of cultures and the spirit of community that defines my constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn. Crucially, I felt honoured to speak for the values upon which I was elected, particularly the need for collective responsibility in the face of adversity.

It is in that spirit that I have decided to sponsor an Early Day Motion as my parliamentary response to the anticipated presence of far right groups in Golders Green . The motion calls upon the Government to isolate the politics of hate and division, but also to celebrate the work being done to promote solidarity and celebrate diversity in the local area. Whilst some MPs may dismiss such motions as simple gestures, I would argue that the historic consequences of allowing bigotry to fester unchallenged are too grave to ignore.

As with several neighbouring constituencies of North London, Hampstead has seen an increase in antisemitic incidents over the past year. Whether it was swastikas being daubed on signs in Hampstead Heath, or concerned parents fearing for their children's safety in school, antisemitism has reared its ugly head and must continue to be met with an uncompromising, zero-tolerance response. My Early Day Motion forms a small part of the necessary efforts, which is why its wording sought to give a platform for the work of local campaigners.

The London Jewish Forum has assembled a broad tent of activists and community leaders under the banner of 'Golders Green Together'. Such work should be commended for its determination and scale of achievement, but crucially, the relentless positivity in its message. There are an abundance of reasons to celebrate areas such as Golders Green and we must not let those who want to disrupt our daily lives through fear achieve their goal by muting our pride.

On the practicalities of the protest itself, I support the words of Mike Freer, MP for Golders Green and Finchley, who used Prime Minister's Questions to call for public order measures to be taken in the case of breaches of the law. Freedom of assembly is a vital tenet of democracy, but no group has the freedom to submit another to intimidation and provocation in their own community. This sentiment, widely echoed across the House of Commons, furthers my belief that the broader London community has a duty and responsibility to stand together with its Jewish citizens at this pivotal moment.

In my maiden speech, I referenced the fact that in Hampstead and Kilburn, 46% of residents are foreign born. In my day-to-day commitments as their MP, I feel the need to harness such diversity for the common good. Whilst an Early Day Motion is no Act of Parliament, we cannot allow sentiment to become sterile. I cannot allow this necessary mission to be constrained to my constituency boundaries. When a minority group is targeted for their culture, the religion they follow, the measures they put in place to safeguard their own freedoms, the very least parliamentarians can do is put their name to a message of solidarity.

November 24, 2016 23:06

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