British MP Lee Scott.
(photo credit: YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT)
LONDON – Jewish MP Lee Scott has told Parliamentary colleagues that during the past year his life has been threatened five times, with one telephone caller telling him he should be “stoned to death.”
Scott, a Conservative MP who represents the Ilford North constituency in northeast London, was illustrating what life is like for prominent Jews during last week’s Parliamentary debate on anti-Semitism.
He recalled that during the 2010 general election campaign in a street confrontation with two men, they called him a “dirty little Jew” before threatening to kill him.
Interviewed later on BBC Radio London he described how, whenever he was scared, he used humor to try to defuse situations and in response to that threat asked them whether they would possibly be voting for him or should he record them as “don’t knows.”
“I realized how stupid I was and ran as fast as my little legs could carry me,” he said adding that he cried when he got home, but that vicious threats were the least of Jews’ worries: “The people who tell you they’re going to do something to you, will very rarely do it. It’s people who aren’t going to tell you that you’ve got to worry about.”
Scott said his constituents told him they were more concerned about anti-Semitism and that according to the Metropolitan Police’s website, anti-Semitic incidents in London increased by 92 percent over the last year – with 322 being recorded in the 12 months to October 2014.
Much of the increase has been ascribed to growing tensions between Israel and the Palestinians.
Meanwhile a further indication of hostility to Israel in Ireland emerged last week with the disclosure that the organizers of Irish Holocaust Memorial Day – held on international Holocaust Memorial Day, January 27 – has told its long-standing host Yanky Fachler that he is “not to refer to the Jewish state or the State of Israel during any part of the ceremony.”
According to The Jewish Chronicle he had been given a similar instruction just four days before this January’s event and despite his objections and anger, reluctantly complied with the request.
“I felt like I’d been hit very hard in my stomach.
I couldn’t believe it. I was absolutely shocked, but I was not going to pull out four days before the event – but I said this was very wrong, very dangerous. I believe that it plays directly into the hands of everyone who doesn’t like Jews or Israel and I find it very sad that apparently the two Jewish members of the board did this.”
Despite subsequently complaining, he was told by the chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust Ireland, Peter Cassells that the same conditions would apply to next January’s ceremony.
Six days later he received a letter telling him that after compering the ceremony for the last 12 years his services were being dispensed with.
The then Irish justice and equality minister, Alan Shatter, who is Jewish, said the letters to Fachler were “completely unacceptable,” and condemned HETI’s decision to ban mentions of Israel.
“This could do profound damage to the organization.
I’m concerned that board members of HETI have been influenced in how they’re approaching this issue by the hostility toward Israel in some sections of Irish public discourse and by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
Maurice Cohen, chairman of the Jewish Representative Council of Ireland, told the paper that the decision was both “reprehensible and unacceptable to the wider Irish Jewish community and is at complete variance with the stated aims and objectives of the trust. The community is horrified.”
Cohen however confirmed that the ceremony is still set to be held and that Ireland’s President Michael Higgins would as in previous years, be present.
A spokesman for Israel’s Embassy in Dublin said that Ambassador Boaz Modai would be present for the third time, but described the ban on mentioning Israel as “a gross disservice to the victims of the Shoah and to the survivors who found refuge in Israel.”