Journalist and author Melanie Phillips has warned of a “perfect anti-Jewish storm” in motion during a powerful Yom HaShoah lecture.
Describing interconnected threats to British Jewry as existing “on the left, right and in the Muslim community,” Philips argued there were “unmistakable echoes” of the 1930s, and that many in the Jewish community were refusing once again to acknowledge “the true nature and extent of the gathering threat.”
Delivering a powerful riposte against Labour under Jeremy Corbyn, Philips further added that the Left had “become the enemy of the West and the enemy of the Jews,” and that the difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism was “bogus” since both concepts were “umbilically connected.”
Casting an eye over current affairs, Philips argued that since Jews were only safe “when a country felt strong”, the increasing rise of nationalism accompanying Brexit offered a “slimmer a hope” that Jews would be better protected in future.
However, she criticised Britain’s “failure to identify and tackle Islamic extremism”, which was leaving the Jewish community as “collateral damage.” On this, Philips criticised Jewish leadership organisations and called on them to “call out anti-Israelism for what it is, teach British people what lies about Israel exist, and talk more about Muslim antisemitism.”
Melanie Phillips was speaking at St John Wood’s synagogue on Thursday night, delivering The Simon Wiesenthal Centre Memorial Lecture on the occasion of Yom HaShoah.
Speaking emotionally about her attachment to Israel, she described her comfort of residing in Israel “where Jews are not on their knees and no one makes me feel as if I don’t belong.
“Israel is the ultimate, and ultimately the only, definitive and triumphant repudiation of antisemitism, and the true vindication of the millions of us who perished in the unspeakable events we memorialise today,” she concluded.
A lively Q&A followed, with questions ranging from the safety of Jews in the United States, the importance of a strong diaspora in ensuring Israel’s survival and how non-Jews could best help the community.
In thanking Melanie Phillips for her lecture, Alan Mendoza of the Henry Jackson Society, who chaired the evening’s proceedings, warned British Jewry of the need to fight for its guaranteed safety.
Rabbi Yoni Golker, who introduced the service and lecture, and recited a memorial prayer for Shoah victims, said: “The large crowd of 500 attendees is a testament to the importance of this event. The central theme of the Festival of Pesach which concluded last week, is how “we learn from our past, the story of our people, and apply these lessons for our future.”
“This was the focus of this Yom Hashoah event – “we learn from our past, the story of our people, and apply these lessons for our future.” and this is exactly what St John’s Wood Synagogue stands for – we are a vibrant modern Orthodox community, proud of our heritage and tradition, learning from our past for our future in the 21st Century.”
The evening was jointly hosted by Laniado and The Simon Wiesenthal Centre.