Holocaust Memorial Day - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords am 11:58 am ar 2 Chwefror 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale Llafur 11:58, 2 Chwefror 2024

My Lords, it is always such a sobering privilege to make a speech in the Holocaust Memorial Day debate and to think of the millions of people we are trying to honour in remembrance of their lives. It gives us an opportunity to pay tribute to the marvellous work done in Britain by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust and the Holocaust Educational Trust, and to all the activities that are undertaken, including by the magnificent Holocaust survivors, who sadly are decreasing in number. They are all united in trying to convey to the present generations why “never again” are such vital words in trying to prevent the recurrence of the great evil of anti-Semitism.

This year of all years, as the noble Lord, Lord Pickles, mentioned in his speech, these words have never sounded so hollow but, at the same time, so important—hollow because the evil of anti-Semitism is creeping out of its hiding places again. As always, it takes many forms, but as a daughter of a Jewish mother, with family in Israel, I can hear, see and smell anti-Semitism whenever it appears. The late former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, said that:

“In the Middle Ages Jews were hated for their religion. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century they were hated for their race. Today they are hated for their nation state, Israel”,

and that

“anti-Zionism is the new antisemitism”.

I am surprised at the surprise evinced by so many about UNRWA’s close relationship with Hamas. Many have known about it for years. One has only to read the schoolbooks in the UNRWA schools. Israel is rarely mentioned by name; it is called the Jewish Zionist occupier or some such. There have been many Nazi-like caricatures of Jews in these books. Just yesterday, a report went into the UN about 3,000 UNRWA teachers on some chat group who celebrated 7 October. Of course, there are decent and honest people—Palestinians as well as foreigners—working in Gaza health and education ministries, in the hospitals and the schools, with the best of motives. But the iron hand of Hamas is absolute in Gaza. There have been increasing questions about UNRWA’s role in perpetuating rather than resolving the Palestine refugee problem. This is not the place nor the time to go into more details about this subject, but I hope we can soon have an opportunity in this House to discuss all that.

Today, I end with heartfelt thanks and expressions of gratitude to all the splendid people who dedicate themselves to keeping the flame of remembrance of the Holocaust and its lessons alive and bright, for present and future generations to be informed and galvanised to take action.