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Reflecting on the holocaust, it is hard to comprehendI am sure that hon. Members will share this viewthe sheer scale of what happened. It was the worst act of
state terrorism that has ever taken place in western Europe. It is also hard to grasp that this act took place in Europe. Those of us who are Europeansall of us present today are Europeansfind it extremely difficult to grasp that this happened in our continent, which we like to think of as one of the centres of civilisation. It is the continent of Goethe, Mozart and Kant.
Lynda Waltho (Stourbridge) (Lab): I am also very moved by what the hon. Gentleman has been saying. Is it not precisely because of the point he makes that we must encourage organisations such as the Holocaust Educational Trust to continue their work? It was only when I went to Auschwitz that I started to comprehend the industrial nature of what happened. The young people I was with were silent for virtually the whole trip home, as they sought to comprehend what they had seen. That is exactly why we must encourage the Government to support the Holocaust Educational Trust.
Mr. Goodman: The hon. Lady makes an absolutely key point. She is now the third Member in the debate to highlight some of the difficulties of educating young people who are growing up today about what happened in Europe on such a vast scale 50 and more years ago. The hon. Member for Dundee, East (Stewart Hosie) made the same point earlier. He and the hon. Lady are absolutely right.
Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) (Lab): If I understood the hon. Gentleman correctly, he said that it is difficult to comprehend how these events could have happened in Europe. He was not speaking about this particular period, but would he accept that sustained anti-Semitism has been dominant in Europe for centuries and that it would have been virtually impossible for the Nazis to do what they did if the Jews had not been attacked and persecuted over such a long period? Although Jews have perhaps had more security in this country than in most others since the 17th century, we need to remember that this country was the first in Europe to expel Jews. As the hon. Gentleman will be aware, the proclamation was made in July 1290, and the actual expulsion was in Novemberit was much the same as the expulsion of Asians from Uganda in 1972.
Mr. Goodman: I agree with the hon. Gentleman. My point was that, as Europeans, we need to remember our common history and understand the roots of what happened. It is significant than in the 50 and more years since the war, the ChurchesI am thinking particularly of the Roman Catholic Churchhave changed key parts of their teaching and message to repudiate some of the inheritance of anti-Semitism that was present in that and other similar institutions. The hon. Gentleman is taking me where I want to go, as I now want to talk about the future as well as the past and to explain why this debate is so topical.
The Minister was quite right to intimate that the Jews were not the only victims of the holocaust; there were other groups such as Gypsies and, indeed, gay people. Crimes against humanity have taken place recently and are taking place elsewherein Rwanda, Darfur and Kosovo, for example. I understand from what the Minister said that those crimes were alluded to in the event in Liverpool on Sunday, which is obviously right and proper. Coming back to the
present, however, it is a sober fact that anti-Semitism still, sadly, exists in Europe, perhaps particularly in eastern Europe and, indeed, in the UK.
In addition to commending the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust, I would like to commend that of the Community Security Trustthe Minister will be familiar with itand the all-party group on anti-Semitism. I see in their places the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) and others associated with that group.
Kelvin Hopkins: Would the hon. Gentleman care to add to the list of organisations that do such marvellous work in this area the Anne Frank Educational Trust, which has a touring exhibition throughout Britain, which has been going for many years? It draws everyones attention, including that of schools and communities across the country, to the horrors of the holocaust.
Mr. McGovern: I join other hon. Members in paying tribute to the Holocaust Educational Trust. It has already been mentioned that two people from each constituency are invited to go on a trip to Auschwitz each year. What has not been mentioned is that MPs are also invited, and I would hope that every Member would encourage as many other Members as possible to participate in that trip. I was fortunate enough to go in October last year with more than 200 Scottish school pupils. It was a most memorable trip, and I would like to pay particular tribute to Rebecca Clark of Lawside academy in Dundee who recorded everyones views about it for the academys radio programme. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that more hon. Members should participate in these trips?
When I was growing up, it was recognised that the main political source of anti-Semitism in the UK was neo-Nazi groups, but the picture today is slightly different. The neo-Nazi groups are still there, but there are others who express extreme views and who believe, for example, that Jews are the enemy of Islam. That is a subject of some interest to me as the Conservative MP with the largest number of Muslim constituents. I always find that view puzzling. My constituents are often keen to point out to me that Jews and Christians are Ahl al-Kitabpeople of the bookwho are recognised in Islam as fellow believers in one God. The extremist views that I referred to are certainly not those of mainstream Muslims.
Ms Karen Buck (Regents Park and Kensington, North) (Lab):
On that particular point, is the hon. Gentleman aware that a malicious rumour has been
circulating that holocaust teaching is not permitted and is being reduced in certain schools with large numbers of Muslim pupils? Speaking as a Member who represents a constituency with many such schools, may I absolutely reassure him that that is not the case? Indeed, schools in my constituency have participated in the Holocaust Educational Trust activities and I have sometimes joined them. There is a strong emphasis on holocaust teaching, which crosses all the faith communities. I would like to see all-party condemnation of that rumour.
Mr. Goodman: I am sure that the hon. Lady is right. I was going to ask the Minister about that. According to my research, a document produced by the Department for Children, Schools and Families referred to one teacher in a school in northern England who had allegedly backed off from teaching the holocaust because of the reaction that, rightly or wrongly, they thought they would get from Muslim pupils. Perhaps the Minister can clear that up later.
While discussing Holocaust memorial day, I wanted to make passing reference to the Muslim Council of Britain, of which both the Government and, for the Conservatives, Dame Pauline Neville-Jones have in some respects been critical. The MCB this year decided to attend Holocaust memorial day, having boycotted it for many years. It is right to give credit where it is dueit has finally decided to attend.
In relation to keeping Holocaust memorial day alive, I want to press the Minister a little on anti-Semitism in Britain today in universities and schools. It is a sobering thought that the Government are paying capital costs for school security in, I believe, 12 local authority areas. That is a reminder that the terrible legacy of anti-Semitism, demonstrated in the holocaust, is not, I am afraid, entirely gone.
I want to ask the Minister three questions. First, the Home Office and the Department for Communities and Local Government have a hate crime taskforce, which is reviewing evidence of campus anti-Semitism. Has that taskforce had an opportunity to report? If not, when will it do so? Secondly, there is a long-standing difficulty about British citizens, or at least people living in Britain, contributing to USA-based anti-Semitic websites. I understand that a prosecution may be due. If the Minister can give any news on that, I think the House would be grateful.
Thirdly, the Government are committed to recording different hate crimes. In a Westminster Hall debateinitiated, I think, by the all-party groupa Minister gave that commitment, but apparently only one in 10 recent anti-Semitic hate crimes has led to prosecution. That is a low proportion. Will the Minister comment on what the Government can do to raise the success rate?
In closing, I looked to the account of what happened in Liverpool and found what seemed to be an apposite quote from Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, which marries up the points about past and future that many hon. Members have made today:
We cant change the past. But each of us, by challenging prejudice and intolerance, can change the future.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Order. This might be the appropriate point at which to remind Back-Bench Members that there is no time limit on their speeches, but I suspect that, unless they confine themselves to reasonably concise remarks, I shall not be able to call every Member. I hope that there will be a degree of co-operation across the House.
Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): We have only one hour for this debate. Those on the Front Benches have been very generous in taking interventions. I will not take interventions, simply so that I can sit down as soon as I can. Please wave a yellow or a red card at me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, if I go over more than four or five minutes.
This is an important debate and I am glad that the Government have found time for it. Like other Members, I have visited Auschwitz. I was there on the 60th anniversary of the liberation, but I have taken my children on private visits to Polandto Madjenekto try to explain to them exactly what the holocaust was. It was unique; it was not another genocide, another extermination. History is littered with those. As the hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr. Goodman) said, we face them today, perhaps in Darfur. What is being unleashed in Kenya might also be going in that horrible direction. We hope not.
The holocaust was four years of calmly organised, purposeful integration of transport, science, engineering and construction work to put millions of Jews, Sinti and Gypsies to death. We are now finding that the death toll may be higher. I want to report to the House the remarkable work of Father Desbois, a Paris-based priest who has spent the past two or three years touring sites in Ukraine that are not recorded, discovering graves containing the remains of Jews put to death by SS and Wehrmacht Einsatzgruppen after the invasion of Ukraine.
The holocaust figures may have to be increased a little, which is why we have to say to ourselves that there is no comparison between the holocaust and other horrible moments of European, or indeed world, historyexpulsions, ethnic cleansing, population transfers, massacres at the end of the Ottoman empire and hundreds of thousands of Palestinians leaving their homes in the wars of 1947 and 1948.
Nor can we class the holocaust as just a matter of history. As hon. Members have said, the holocaust was rooted in an ideologynot in hate, race or religious hate, much as those were part of it, but in an ideology called anti-Semitism. It has been said that anti-Semitism is a light sleeper. As chairman of the all-party commission of inquiry into anti-Semitism in this country, let me report to the House the fact that this is a light sleeper that is reawakening. Anti-Semitism is one of the ideological driving forces for violence, hate and terror around the world. It is international and coherent; it involves theoreticians and practitioners; its involves men of huge violence while at its soft end it
involves a joke around the dinner table, or perhaps a brick hurled through a synagogue window.
We have to place on record some apostles of contemporary anti-Semitism as the best way of giving witness to our concern about and horror at what happened in the holocaust. Take, for example, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who says:
An Israeli woman is not like women in our societies, because she is a soldier.
I consider this type of martyrdom operation
as an evidence of Gods justice.
Allah Almighty is just; through his infinite wisdom he has given the weak a weapon the strong do not have and that is their ability to turn their bodies into bombs as Palestinians do.
Read history and you will understand that the Jews of yesterday are the evil fathers of the Jews of today...the scum of the human race whom Allah turned into apes and pigs.
Even if the peace process succeeds, it is impossible that Israel should be a legitimate state.
Returning home, Mr. David Irving, talking late last year to The Guardian, said that the Jews were responsible for what happened to them in the second world war and that the Jewish problem was responsible for nearly all the wars of the past 100 years:
The Jews are the architects of their own misfortune,
You know the origins of the French president and those who put him into power. Do you know that the Israelis printed a stamp with Nicolas Sarkozy on it during the election campaign?...Why has Bernard Kouchner...
decided to cross the floor? Its the result of a movement that reflects the views of the real architects of Sarkozys arrival in powerthe Jewish lobby.
There we have it againreferences to the Jewish lobby, the cabal. The Saudi Government are publishing translations of the protocols of the elders of Zion and circulating them as contemporary historical material.
My final remarksI shall sit down soon, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and thank you for that glancerelate to material published by Policy Exchange in a report produced by Professor Denis MacEoin of Newcastle university at the end of last year. The information in question is in circulation in the King Fahad school in west London. It says that the Jews are responsible for trying to
immerse nations in vice and the spread of fornication.
spreading immoral pornographic literature...Cheating, bribing, stealing and conning.
The Jews are a people who were moulded with treachery and backstabbing throughout the centuries and they do not keep their word nor honour their promise.
Finally, let me quote Nick Griffin of the British National party, who is currently obsessed with Polish workers. A few years ago it was Asian workers, but the man has always been obsessed with Jews. He wrote a book called Who Are The Mindbenders?, which lists Jews who work in the media and do not use their real names. Mr. Griffin denounced the former Labour Member of Parliament for York, Alex Lyon, as
this bloody Jew... whose only claim to fame is that two of his parents died in the Holocaust.
the Jews... shifted the alleged sites of the mass gassings from the no-longer believable German camps such as Dachau and Belsen to the sites in Communist Poland such as Auschwitz and Treblinka.
I put those quotes on the record so that people who read the debate can understand that what we are dealing with is not history. What we are dealing with is not what happened in the past; it is alive, awake and organising. It involves British citizens. It involves many people from different countries and different faiths. We must combat anti-Semitism today with the dedication with which we so singularly failed to combat anti-Semitism and Nazism before 1939.
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