Britain's Chief Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks speaks during an interview at his home in London, April 17, 2002.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The UK’s House of Lords debated the subject of antisemitism in the country’s politics, with Britain’s former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks describing the rise of antisemitism in Europe today being similar to that of Holocaust-era Europe.
Sacks expressed his shock that when he visited Poland, he found that the Warsaw Ghetto was located in the city center.
“Try to imagine 400,000 Hindus or Sikhs imprisoned within ghetto walls in the middle of London,” Sacks said on Thursday. “Imagine people passing those walls every day, knowing that behind them, thousands were dying or being sent to their deaths, and no one said a word. How did it happen?
“It happened because, in the 19th century – in the heart of emancipated Europe – antisemitism, once dismissed as a primitive prejudice of the Middle Ages, was reborn,” Sacks continued.
Sacks mentioned the different politicians during the Holocaust who allowed that same medieval antisemitism to prevail. “That is where we are today,” he emphasized. “Within living memory of the Holocaust, antisemitism has returned exactly as it did in the 19th century, just when people had begun to feel that they had finally vanquished the hatreds of the past.
“Today, there is hardly a country in the world, certainly not a single country in Europe, where Jews feel safe,” Sacks declared. “It is hard to emphasize how serious this is, not just for Jews but for our shared humanity.”
Pointing his finger at the long-running wave of antisemitism taking over the UK Labour Party, Sacks said that “a society – or for that matter, a political party – that tolerates antisemitism, that tolerates any hate, has forfeited all moral credibility.”
“You cannot build a future on the malign myths of the past,” Sacks concluded. “You cannot sustain freedom on the basis of hostility and hate.”
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