Andrew Percy

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism has been re-formed and is on the front foot

The co-chairs of the body set out their plans for the new year

January 17, 2020 12:21

Each and every year, innumerable politicians remember, as we have a responsibility to, the horrors of the Holocaust and where antisemitism can lead.

Two years ago, the theme for Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) was the power of words. This year, the theme is Stand Together. It is painfully ironic that over the past five years we have seen increases in antisemitism, words used for harm rather than good and people failing to demonstrate solidarity, rather than standing together not least in public life.

The Community Security Trust will unveil its antisemitic incident statistics next month and the early indications are that we may well have just been through another year of rising hatred against the Jewish community.

If Holocaust Memorial Day is for us to learn lessons, to find courage, and to energise us for future action, we must ask what we can do and what  we will do, not just to stand together but to act and move forward together.

Last week, the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism was re-formed. It is a new Parliament, a new year and a new team. Our group had become synonymous with its former chair John, now Lord Mann. He set a high bar for action against antisemitism and it is one as the new co-chairs of the group that we are planning to meet, if not exceed.

Lord Mann remarked at the Inaugural Annual General Meeting that previous AGMs were the preserve of a handful of Lords and few MPs. The AGM this year drew a dozen MPs, and so our battle against antisemitism is drawing youthful, eager champions. We start as we mean to go on, in numbers.

There are several principles that the group has established which we will maintain. First, we work cross-party. We are one of the most encompassing groups in Parliament. Conservative, Labour and SNP members attended the AGM. We have already been in contact with Green Party, Alliance and SDLP colleagues.

Antisemitism shouldn’t be a party-political issue; where it becomes one, our second principle is that MPs take on the problems in our own parties. If we cannot hold up a mirror to ourselves, we cannot possibly call out the evil of others.

Third, we will use our platform to call out hate, be that in Prime Minister’s Questions as we already have, in the press or elsewhere. Antisemites will have no place to hide.

We’ve already been active in this Parliament, working with our secretariat, the Antisemitism Policy Trust. Straight after the AGM we had a training event for new members. A tour to investigate the impact of antisemitism on the Jewish community in London is already planned.

The forthcoming Online Harms Bill will be a focus of our attention as we seek to ensure the strongest possible action against anti-Jewish racism on the internet.

We plan to work with the Law Commission to ensure laws against hate crime are as effective as they can be.

We have plans to highlight and seek better understanding of antisemitism on the far-left and far-right.

We plan to work with the community to understand what more we need to do and we will continue to educate all of our colleagues about antisemitic discourse and their responsibility to stand together with the Jewish community against racism.

Holocaust Memorial Day this year is about standing together. We are standing with you, we won’t be silent partners, and we won’t stand still.

Andrew Percy and Catherine McKinnell are co-chairs of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism

January 17, 2020 12:21

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