Conservative peer Lord Wolfson has told the House of Lords that he is more concerned about the safety of his daughter wearing a Star of David in London than that of his son, who is in the IDF.
Asking “how on Earth” Britain had arrived at this point, the peer, speaking during a debate on the Israel-Hamas conflict on Tuesday, said: “There are three reasons: information, institutions and constitution.”
On “information”, he said: “In the past few weeks the BBC has brought us national shame. I need not take time with the BBC’s abject failure to describe Hamas in plain English as what it is: a terrorist group.
“After an intervention from me and other noble Lords, the BBC announced that it had stopped calling Hamas 'militants' - I am not making this up - because ‘we have been finding this a less accurate description for our audiences as the situation evolves’."
He went on: “Last week the BBC reported, uncritically, and citing only Palestinian officials —which of course means Hamas — that Israel had struck the Al-Ahli hospital. But what the Israelis said at the time has now been corroborated: it was an Islamic Jihad rocket that hit the hospital. That defamatory report is still on the BBC website.
“In our community we are used to some people, such as Mr Corbyn, parroting Hamas propaganda, but to have the BBC do it when it would not have done so with propaganda from Isis or al-Qaeda led to real consequences, not just the cancellation of a summit in Amman but in this city too: Jewish schools closed, kosher restaurants smashed up, heightened security at every synagogue — and my daughter wondering whether it was safe to go on the Tube.
Moving on to “institutions”, he pointed to the fear that exists among university students to display their Jewishness in public. He said: “University Jewish societies no longer publicise where they are meeting. The address is handed out shortly before the meeting. This is not some underground group in Soviet Russia but a Jewish society in this country in 2023.”
He said: “Our universities have become centres of binary thinking, where you are either an oppressor or the oppressed. In the case of Israel, it would seem that oppressors include murdered babies and kidnapped grandmothers — although sometimes Hamas preferred to kidnap the babies and murder their grandmothers.
“Students and their professors will write long and apparently scholarly articles explaining how words are violence and silence is violence, but they now offer no words — only silence — in the face of not just violence but a pogrom. So if, when we face terrorism, careless talk costs lives, silence in the face of terrorism costs even more.”
Lord Wolfson, @DXW_KC in the @UKHouseofLords yesterday explains how his concern for his daughter wearing her Magen David✡️ necklace on the Tube in #London is more acute than that for his son in the #IDF.— NJA (@NJA_UK) October 25, 2023
A sad & frankly unacceptable indictment on the reality for #Jews in the UK! pic.twitter.com/eTfcnwaTec
Explaining his point about “constitution”, he said that he was not referring to either the monarchy or politics, and praised the King and the prime minister for their principled stances on this issue.
However, he said that while the Jewish community was protected by law, many currently feel that they are not properly protected by the police.
Lord Wolfson said: “The shout ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ is not a nursery rhyme; it is a murderous rhyme because it calls for the destruction of Israel and, necessarily, its inhabitants. It is not a demand for the two-state solution in which I and so many others still believe. But the police have done nothing about it.
“They did not even intervene when members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a group that is illegal in many other western countries but is still legal here for some reason, chanted for jihad. I am aware that “jihad” has several meanings apart from armed struggle: it can refer to self-reflection, personal improvement and quiet meditation. But when it is chanted on the streets of London with a banner referring to Muslim armies liberating Palestine, and when the group’s website refers to ‘heroic feats carried out by the heroic Mujahideen in the Blessed Land — Palestine”, I simply do not understand how the Metropolitan Police concluded that that cry for jihad was not supporting or glorifying Hamas, which is a criminal offence.”
Concluding, he said that there was a Jewish tradition that “we do not end a biblical reading on a note of despondency” and, quoting from Jeremiah, said: “Thus saith the Lord; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. And there is hope in thine end, saith the Lord.”