Theresa May warns of antisemitism in Pesach greeting to UK Jews

"Without its Jewish community, Britain would not be Britain," the Prime Minister said in her annual message.


Theresa May has warned of the dangers of allowing antisemitism to “flourish” in her first Pesach message to British Jews as Prime Minister.

Mrs May said the “history of the Jewish people and horrors of the Holocaust” acted as a warning, and outlined the government’s efforts to fighting hatred.

She thanked the community for the “enormous contribution” it makes to Britain.

Sending “my very best wishes to Jewish communities in the UK and around the world for a very happy and peaceful Pesach”, Mrs May said: “As Jewish families come together to relive the story of escape from slavery in ancient Egypt, it gives all communities an opportunity to join with you in thanks for the liberty and freedom that we all hold dear.

“The history of the Jewish people and the horrors of the Holocaust highlight what happens when freedom is lost and antisemitism is allowed to flourish.

“That is why we are establishing a national memorial to the Holocaust, together with an accompanying education centre, next to Parliament at the heart of our democracy.

“For in remembering the Holocaust, we will also reaffirm our national commitment to fighting hated and prejudice in all its forms in the world today.”

The Prime Minister said the freedom to practise religion without anxiety or prejudice was a “fundamental tenet of our society”.

She added: “I will defend your rights to practise your faith without fear. As I have said before, without its Jewish community, Britain would not be Britain.

“Your community makes an enormous contribution to the UK and has excelled in every field helping create a successful and prosperous country. So let me wish you and your family a Chag Kasher V'Sameach.”

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader, said he wanted to send his "warmest wishes" to Jewish communities across the world.

"The Passover story is, of course, one of the most important festivals in the Jewish calendar, celebrating the liberation from slavery in Egypt and escape to the Promised Land.

"Passover provides a vital message to everybody, of liberation and the struggle for freedom. The journey from Egypt has inspired oppressed people and struggles for justice throughout the world, and continues to do so today."

Mr Corbyn said during Pesach he would think about the "value of coming together as a community, as families break unleavened bread together and remember their shared history" and of how "bringing families and communities together can strengthen us all in the struggle for liberation and justice".

Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, said Pesach was a "remarkable festival because despite being based on a story which is over 3,000 years old it always manages to provide contemporary relevance.  

"Given recent events in Syria, we are reminded not only how lucky we are to live free from the fear of attack, but also our responsibility to those less fortunate than ourselves, who live in fear of their lives.  

"The tradition of opening the door to welcome in Elijah, the prophet, is poignant, in this regard. Dating back to the middle ages. it would - and still does in some parts of the world - place those inside at risk of attack.

"We cannot individually be free unless we strive for freedom for all our neighbours and the whole world."

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