Lammy: black and Jewish people share historic pain - we must fight racism together

The Shadow Justice Minister joined other prominent figures for a special Black Lives Matter Everywhere event at JW3


Labour's David Lammy has used an appearance at JW3's Black Lives Matter Everywhere event to speak of the historic "rainbow alliance" that has existed between black and Jewish communities across the world in what he said was now a "critical moment'' in the struggle against racism.

The Shadow Justice Minister was one of four panellists to take part in Sunday evening's online meeting organised by the Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE) in response to the protests following the death of George Floyd in America.

Stressing the impact of the structural racism and colonialism on black people, the Tottenham MP noted how the current pandemic had also disproportionately hit the black and Jewish communities, including, he said, ''my Chief Rabbi in the Charedi community, Rabbi Pinter.''

But keen to stress the need for a unified response to "this great struggle", Mr Lammy added: "I hope we can remain united in this fight against this horrible evil that is holding people back.''

He then said: ''It really is important to remind this audience of that rainbow alliance that has existed between our two communities because of that historic pain and our understanding.''

The MP added the "historic pain" was also a ''biblical pain", rooted in the shared sense of "exile''. 

He then outlined the racist tropes directed at black people and those directed at Jews, "Tropes about power, hoarding of wealth, mean – and conspiracy theories."

He spoke also of the role Jewish lawyers had played in the American civil rights movement, and in South Africa in the fight against apartheid.

And when black people in the UK struggled to rent homes when first moving to the UK, Mr Lammy said it had often been only Jewish landlords who were willing to offer their properties.

Over 2,000 people watched the JW3 event, which was introduced by CEO Raymond Simonson. He said: "It has been a difficult week for everyone, wherever it is you are watching.

''Our aim was for us to have a conversation, which at times can be a difficult conversation, but that's OK. ''

JCORE executive director Dr Eddie Friedman hosted the discussion, saying she wished to explore how ''Black Jewish relations can get further developed.''

Black-Jewish journalist Nadine Batchelor-Hunt claimed that during the last general election Jews were not necessarily "standing in solidarity with black people towards the shared challenge of racism.''

The former president of the Cambridge University Black and Minority Ethnic Campaign added the she had been part of group called "Jews Against Boris" whose purpose was to highlight how ''solidarity in the fight against racism is the only way you are going to get rid of racism".

Ms Batchelor-Hunt, who had supported Jeremy Corbyn at the last election, said that Sunday's event was important because it showed ''there is a will now to say to the black community we are going to stand with you against this form of hate and this form of oppression, which before had not happened on a big enough scale ever.''

She said she had written to "communal organisations" and to Jewish religious leaders "asking for support for black Jews - and it just wasn't happening.''

Later, Ms Batchelor-Hunt said she did not know how to address ''anti-Blackness'' in the community, which she said was tied into the broader issue of racism within the white community.

But she accepted there was "a difference between an average white person and a Jewish person''.

Ms Batchelor-Hunt said it would be ''nice one day to go to Kosher Kingdom and not be stared at".

Meanwhile, April Baskin, a Jewish-African activist and community organiser in America, backed calls for the United States to address the ''trauma'' of its history of slavery.

She said: "In terms of black-Jewish relations, there is so much to say. Speaking to a Jewish audience - it's finding more productive ways of noticing the differences  culturally and historically in the way antisemitism operates versus racism.

"There are core differences in the way racism operates."

Ms Baskin said the historical legacy of the Holocaust had sometimes left Jews in the United States afraid to speak out more.

She said ''more Jews at this moment'' were speaking out over anti-black racism.

Lord Simon Woolley, the founder and director of Operation Black Vote and the Advisory Chair of the Government of the United Kingdom Race Disparity Unit, said: ''Out of this crisis we must rebuild bigger and better.''

He called for the audience to ''stand up and be a leader - we are not asking for social and racial justice. We are demanding it. Tell the word we are together in this and we will build a brighter future.''


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