Shame on you, Holocaust survivor tells Lineker over asylum policy tweet

Prominent Jews have attacked the BBC pundit after he compared the language being used to discuss UK’s asylum plans to 1930s Germany


LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 14: Gary Lineker speaks during a pro-remain a rally rejecting the the Prime Minister's Brexit deal on November 14, 2018 in London, England. Anti-Brexit groups 'Best for Britain' and 'The People's Vote Campaign' are holding a joint rally tonight to call on MPs to say they are not buying the Prime Minister's Brexit deal. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

A founding trustee of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) is among a number of prominent Jews to hit out at ex-footballer and BBC pundit Gary Lineker over his tweet comparing the language being used to talk about UK’s asylum plans to 1930s Germany. 

Holocaust survivor Agnes Grunwald-Spier MBE has said the Match of the Day host “should be ashamed” for his tweet on Wednesday in which he referred to the language used by Home Secretary Suella Braverman to set out her asylum plans as “beyond awful” and “not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 1930s.” 

Responding to Lineker on Twitter, Grunwald-Spier, who has also been a member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews for 15 years, said: “What is beyond awful is your comment about the Nazis. I suggest you read my book ‘Who Betrayed the Jews?’ and find out what the Nazis really did.  

“When you read all 600+ pages you may be entitled to comment on the Nazis. I was a baby in the Budapest Ghetto – shame on you.” 

She later added: “I will continue to speak up for the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis – those poor souls have no voice but mine. You should be ashamed. Read my books and learn what the Nazis really did.” 

Born in Budapest in 1944, Grunwald-Spier has written a number of books on the Holocaust, including “Women’s Experience in the Holocaust”, and “The Other Schindlers”. She was awarded an MBE in the 2016 New Year Honours List for her work with HMDT and for “services to Holocaust awareness”. 

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer, who is Jewish, said Lineker’s comments were “disappointing and inappropriate”, adding it was important for the BBC “to retain impartiality if it is to retain the trust of the public who pay the license fee.” 

Responding to a question in the Commons, Frazer said: “As somebody whose grandmother escaped Nazi Germany in the 1930s I think I’s really disappointing and inappropriate to compare government policy on immigration events to events in Germany in the 1930s.” 

Writer and former Member of the European Parliament Steven Woolfe, who is also Jewish, told TalkTV that Lineker’s comments were “disgraceful”, and that the asylum policy is “incredibly positive” for Britain.  

“It’s a sad day for people smugglers and those who promote illegal mass immigration,” he said. 

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick, who is married to an Israeli, said on Wednesday: "My children are the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, and I think those sorts of words should not be thrown around lightly. Gary Lineker is paid for by the British taxpayer. And it's disappointing that he is so far out of step with the British public." 

Lineker had tweeted on Wednesday: “This is just an immeasurable cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 1930s.”  

 The 62-year-old ‘Match of the Day’ presenter stood by his comments on Thursday morning. 

BBC executive Tim Davie has said that Lineker would be “reminded” of their broadcasting responsibilities in a “frank conversation”. Richard Ayre, the BBC’s former controller of editorial policy, said Lineker could be dismissed over his commentary. 

Mr Ayre said on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme: “I don’t think [the BBC’s director general] is going to have any choice but to let him go unless he can be certain that this is the end of it.” 

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said she was "disappointed" by the comments, which were “unhelpful to compare our measures which are lawful, proportionate and, indeed, compassionate to 1930s Germany. I also think we're on the side of the British people here.” 

Braverman’s opposition counterpart, Labour's Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said that the £1.35 million a year BBC star was "wrong to say that". 

“I just don't think you should make comparisons with the 1930s,” Cooper said. 

The Conservative Party deputy chairman Lee Anderson also weighed in, labelling Lineker's comment "disgusting and vile". 

“Earth to Gary Lineker, you do realise that these people are leaving France which is a safe country? Probably much safer and more tolerant of migrants than Qatar,” Anderson tweeted, referencing Lineker’s acceptance of the World Cup commentator gig in the country last year. 

He added: "The BBC should disassociate themselves from these types of comments and ask themselves the question 'is this the type of comment they expect from their publicly funded presenters?' Awful." 

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn backed Lineker over his comments. On Twitter he said: “Well done Gary. The plan and the Bill are disgusting!” 

Lineker told reporters on Thursday that he did not fear a suspension from BBC and stands by his comments. 

In response to the backlash and criticism, Lineker tweeted: “Great to see the freedom of speech champions out in force this morning demanding silence from those with whom they disagree.” 

The BBC faced complaints last year after Lineker lamented the killing of a Palestinian footballer who was later revealed to be a Hamas terrorist. 

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