The leading Jewish peer, Baroness Deech, has expressed “increasing unease” about the direction of Holocaust education, particularly “day trips to Auschwitz”, and says that children do not emerge with proper or contextual knowledge of the contributions of Jews to the world.
Lady Deech, a cross bench peer and lawyer, is a passionate opponent of the proposed British Holocaust memorial in Westminster. She was one of three star panellists marking the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht on Monday evening at JW3, and used the occasion to tell the packed audience that “building a memorial [to the Holocaust] will not do the trick”, instead declaring that it allowed opportunist politicians to “put the Holocaust in a box”, signing a declaration once a year and have their photographs taken, and feeling satisfaction that the issue was dealt with.
The baroness later told Jewish News that she believed the community was being “steamrollered” into supporting the Westminster Holocaust memorial, which she felt was becoming “nastily politicised”.
Each of the panellists — Baroness Deech, together with TV celebrities Robert Rinder and Rachel Riley — had agreed to mark Kristallnacht by speaking about antisemitism. Trudy Gold, consultant head of Holocaust studies at JW3, provided a historical context for Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass” in November 1938, for which, she reminded the audience, Jews were fined a billion marks, to pay for the clean-up of the destruction of their own shops and community buildings.
Robert Rinder, the grandson of a Holocaust survivor who became one of “The Boys”, the group of young men and women who arrived in Britain in 1945, has just made a documentary for the BBC about the Holocaust which will be screened next year. Better known as “Judge Rinder” for his popular daytime TV court show, Mr Rinder gave a trenchant presentation in which he urged the community to become “better advocates” in putting the case and interests of Jews. “We need to be better, and we can”, he declared.
"People use the highest form of morality to justify their antisemitism as @rabbisacks has taught us – once religion, then science, now human rights" @RachelRileyRR tells packed @JW3London audience on #Kristallnacht anniversary pic.twitter.com/6XUgzE2Kdx
— Raymond Simonson Esq. (@FatSideburns) November 11, 2019
He elicited gasps from the audience with an anecdote about a well-known acquaintance who, he said, was a regular on UK TV, who had said that “Brexit was caused by the Jews” — though he refused to identify this person.
Mr Rinder said there were better ways to deal with antisemites on social media. “We should say, I hear what you say, I’m sorry you think that, let me tell you a story [about Jewish contribution to British life],” he said.
Rachel Riley, presenter of the Countdown TV programme, described her own experience at the hands of antisemitic abusers on Twitter and Facebook. She is currently involved in libel actions against a number of her attackers. She admitted she had not been prepared for the level of abuse: “It went from being manageable to the state where I simply couldn’t look at it.”
Nevertheless, she said she was now putting her energies into two “lifelines”, projects aimed at combating antisemitism. One was “Stop Funding Fake News”, which was having success in highlighting abusive websites; and the other is the Centre for Countering Digital Hate, a London-based initiative aimed at helping people deal with “trolls”, whose aim is only to push people into disseminating their racially abusive messages.
Sadly, she added: “If all you ever hear is the extreme, that becomes the norm.”
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.