British prime minister speaks out against antisemitism in Passover message

May’s message comes at the end of a week in which outrage over antisemitic incidents in and surrounding the Labour Party bubbled to the surface.

April 1, 2018 17:15
2 minute read.
British prime minister speaks out against antisemitism in Passover message

Britain's Prime Minister, Theresa May, leaves 10 Downing Street, in central London, Britain March 21, 2018.. (photo credit: REUTERS/TOBY MELVILLE)

British Prime Minister Theresa May addressed the issue of ongoing antisemitism in Britain during a holiday message she delivered to the Jewish community by video at the beginning of Passover.

“Of course, the Exodus from Egypt did not mark the end of antisemitic persecution,” May said during her address, after explaining that the holiday is an opportunity for British citizens to celebrate “the incredible and enduring contribution made by our Jewish community, in every corner of the country and in every walk of life.”

“The descendants of those Moses led to freedom have continued to face hatred, discrimination and violence,” she continued. “It’s a situation that continues to this day, including, I’m sad to say, here in Britain... It’s something I have consistently taken action to tackle, both through investing in security to protect our Jewish communities and through education, with the creation of a National Holocaust Memorial to remind us all where hatred can lead if left unchecked.”

The latest figures released by UK antisemitism watchdog the Community Security Trust found that the number of antisemitic hate incidents in the country reached a new high in 2017.

Britain’s fight against antisemitism includes millions of pounds that go into protecting Jewish institutions and events every year, Holocaust education in the national school curriculum and a plan for a new national Holocaust memorial, which will stand next to the British Parliament and is expected to be completed by 2022.

“The story of Passover teaches us that, while wrong may triumph for a time, the arc of history always bends to the righteous. So, at this special time of year, let us all pledge to stand up and make our voices heard in the face of antisemitism. After all, as Elie Wiesel said, ‘Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented,’” May concluded, before trying out some Hebrew to wish the Jewish community “a happy and Kosher Pesach [Passover].”

May’s message comes at the end of a week in which there was outrage among the country’s Jewry and its supporters over Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to tackle antisemitism both within and surround his party. Over 2,000 people gathered outside Parliament to challenge Corbyn’s perceived failure to tackle the issue.

He has extended an offer to meet with Jewish community leaders, who have responded with a list of preconditions for the Labour leader to prove his commitment to the cause through making concrete steps.

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