Chris Williamson accused of ‘whitewashing prejudices’ by signing Holocaust book
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HMD 2019Controversial MP criticised

Chris Williamson accused of ‘whitewashing prejudices’ by signing Holocaust book

HET, the JLC and Board of Deputies criticise the Labour MP for adding his name to the book of commitment, saying 'no one in the Jewish community is fooled'

Joe Millis is a journalist

Chris Williamson MP singing the book of commitment
Chris Williamson MP singing the book of commitment

Leaders of the British Jewish community this week told a controversial Labour MP that “no one in the Jewish community is fooled” by his signing of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s (HET) Book of Commitment in Parliament.

Chris Williamson, who has been branded a “Jew-baiter” by the Jewish Labour Movement, shared a tweet of him signing the book on Tuesday.

He wrote: “Hatred and bigotry led to the unimaginable horrors of the Holocaust. We must never forget and always strive to build a better, peaceful and compassionate world through love and solidarity”

HET chief executive Karen Pollock was scathing. “Whilst we want all Members to pledge to remember the Holocaust; with antisemitism on the rise, denial and deliberate distortion of the Holocaust seemingly becoming more mainstream, an MP’s signature means nothing without tangible action. Words in a book are not enough.

“For those MPs who consort with Holocaust deniers, say antisemitism is a smear and deny the lived experiences of Jewish people, their motivations for signing can and should be questioned.

“Signing the Trust’s Book of Commitment does not absolve MPs of past associations or comments. Rather, their signature on our page means we now expect significant action without delay. If there is no action, we know the assurances were false and their sympathy, fake.

“Last night, at a Holocaust Educational Trust reception in Parliament with Holocaust survivors, young Holocaust Educational Trust Ambassadors from across the country and members of the Jewish community, we talked about being brave, speaking out and being louder in the fight against antisemitism. Making a mockery of the memory of the Holocaust is repulsive and should be called out as such.”

Board of Deputies Vice President Amanda Bowman said: “It’s the rankest of hypocrisy for Chris Williamson MP to sign the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment, while attacking anyone who raises the question of antisemitism in the Labour Party.

“If Mr Williamson wishes to make a commitment on antisemitism it should be to never again blame the victims of this most ancient hatred.”

And Jewish Leadership Council President Jonathan Goldstein wrote to Williamson, saying: “I have been contacted by many members of the British Jewish community, and other opponents of antisemitism, who were disgusted to see you so publicly signing the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Book of Commitment in the House of Commons. I share their disgust.

“I do not disagree with the wording of the tweet that accompanied your self-publicity, but I reject its legitimacy, given the way in which you repeatedly smear the loyalty and motivation of British Jews, and others, who voice sincere concern about the disgraceful levels of antisemitism within today’s Labour Party.”

He added: “You would not treat the fears of any other British minority group with such hostility, either inside or outside the Labour Party. For me, it is summed up by how you recently rushed to defend one of Britain’s most notorious antisemites, Gilad Atzmon, before, for once having to apologise for your impulsive behaviour.

“Your actions to date have not helped to oppose antisemitism. If anything, they repeatedly risk fuelling distrust and hatred against anyone concerned by antisemitism, which inevitably breeds suspicion against all British Jews and all Jewish members of the Labour Party.”

“No one in the Jewish community is fooled by those who try to whitewash their own prejudices by using Holocaust Memorial Day as their smokescreen. You cannot be opposed to antisemitism whilst simultaneously promoting antisemites.”

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