Former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks told Radio 4’s Today Programme that “there is today almost no European country where Jews feel safe” due to rising anti-Semitism.
Speaking a few days after numerous Labour MPs spoke in the Commons about abuse they received from people who claimed to be supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, Rabbi Sacks bemoaned the presence of Jew-hatred in modern Britain.
He told listeners: “I’ve been doing Thought for the Day for thirty years but I never thought that in 2018 I would still have to speak about anti-Semitism. I was part of that generation, born after the Holocaust, who believed the nations of the world when they said: Never again.”
“But this week, there was an unprecedented debate about anti-Semitism in Parliament. Several MPs spoke emotionally about the abuse they’d received because they were Jews, or more scarily, because they’d fought anti-Semitism. According to the Community Security Trust, antisemitic incidents in Britain have risen to their highest level since record keeping began in 1984, at an average of 4 a day.
This is not the Britain I know and love.”
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The former chief rabbi reflected on the death of Mireille Knoll, an 85 year old Holocaust survivor, who was murdered in her apartment in Paris, because she was a Jew.
He said “there is today almost no European country where Jews feel safe, and this within living memory of the Holocaust.”
Rising anti-Semitism can be attributed to “the rise of political extremism on the right and left” he added, while “the appearance of anti-Semitism is always an early warning sign of a dangerous dysfunction within a culture”.
Concluding his address, he said that “all it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing. Today I see too many good people doing nothing and I am ashamed.”
— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) April 20, 2018
The religious leader, who was Chief Rabbi for 22-years up until 2013, said last month that he wouldn’t consider sitting down with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, due to claims he has failed to tackle anti-Semitism in the party.
Speaking to Jewish News, he said: “I would want to see clearer signs of resolute action by a party and its leader before I would even sit down with them full stop”, when it comes to tackling Jew-hatred.