Business Secretary Sajid Javid has condemned “dinner party anti-Semites” as he called on Britons of all faiths to tackle discrimination against Jews.
The cabinet minister drew on the words of Primo Levi to warn of the dangers of where intolerance can ultimately lead during his keynote address to the Holocaust Educational Trust dinner at the Guildhall.
While intolerance from the far-right and hate preachers was often “explicit”, other examples are more “oblique” like the fact a Google search produces more than half a million hits for ‘Holocaust hoax’.
“Then there are the ‘dinner party anti-semites’. Respectable, middle class people who would recoil in horror if you accused them of racism but are quite happy to repeat modern takes on age-old myths and slanders about Jews. Who can’t condemn the murder of Jewish children in France without a caveat criticising the Israeli government.
“I can’t remember the last time I spoke to a Jewish friend or colleague who hasn’t , at some point, found themselves sitting awkwardly at a dinner party while a fellow guest railed against the international ‘kosher conspiracy’. Together these attititudes create a climate in which anti-Semitism is seen as less bad than other forms of discrimination. In that climate, the most violent extremism can take root.”
Praising the Holocaust Educational Trust for turning the “climate of hostility on its head”, Javid called on “every decent Briton of any faith or none” to join the battle against extremism and anti-Semitism. “And I call on everyone here toto support the holocaust Educational Trust and to give the memory of the Holocaust a place within your walls.”
In front of an audience of 400 including Sir Nicholas Winton’s daughter Barbara, he said the British hero who rescued 669 children from Nazi-occupied Europe “deserves our eternal gratitude”.
Turning his attention to the current refugee crisis, the MP said it was “incumbent” on those who are able to offer a safe haven to those fleeing conflict.
He said: “If we look the other way, if we say its nothing to do with us, if we say a refugee’s not welcome here because of their religion then we are no better than those wo tried to bar the door against Jewish refugees two generations ago.”