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Sunday, 1 February 2015

Jewish peer considers his position on Israel

Written by Mandy Rhodes on 1 February 2015 in News

'Blue Labour' architect tells Holyrood he has found attacks on Jews hard

Baron Glasman

An influential Jewish peer and former guru to Ed Miliband has told Holyrood that he is rethinking his position on Israel following the Paris massacres in a kosher supermarket last month.
Speaking to Holyrood on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Baron Glasman of Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill said that while he had never been a Zionist, he now worries about the safety of Jews living in Britain.

His comments follow the murder of journalists working at the Charlie Hebdo magazine and also of Jews in a kosher supermarket in Paris. Speaking as tributes were paid across the world to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, Glasman, the architect of ‘Blue Labour’, said there was a growing tide of anti-Semitism and intolerance against Jews.
“I’ve never been a Zionist. I have always been committed to exile but this is a very difficult situation to deal with and I am rethinking lots of my previously held views on this,” he said. “With the dead Jews in France, suddenly I could see a situation in Britain where Jews are not welcome, where life will be difficult and dangerous, and so I am in the process of rethinking quite a lot of that and maybe I was too quick to think that everyone could live together as they did.  
“Britain was the only place in Europe where Jews were not killed and that is a source of my patriotism. The people of Britain ensured that my parents weren’t killed and that was drummed into me growing up. And while, I don’t like the cartoons of Charlie Hebdo much, I defend the right for people to do it.“I respect faiths and I respect people’s sensibility in relation to that. Shooting journalists at their desks and shooting Jews when they are doing their shopping, though, is fascist. 

"Britain was the only place in Europe where Jews were not killed and that is a source of my patriotism."

“The relatives that I had living in Israel were refugees from Prague and Vienna and no one else would have them after the war. Looking at that, I’m thinking, it’s weird there’s not more understanding that Jews going about their daily lives and being killed is a shocking, awful, terrible thing. People tend to say it’s complicated and that they didn’t kill Jews before Israel but it’s not like that. This is something else and really wrong, this is an attack on the conditions of Jewish life in exile. I’m absolutely committed to the common good, I am intensifying my efforts to build a broad-based politics and have been criticised for the extent of my engagement with faith communities, but these last few weeks have been hard for me and just to share that with you, I’m suddenly turning round and people are saying weird and strange things which I wouldn’t expect. There is a lot to consider here for me.”
Glasman’s comments echo those of the Jewish actress, Maureen Lipman, who has said the rise of anti-Semitism in the UK has prompted her to consider leaving the country. The Yorkshire-born actress has said she had thought about moving to New York or Israel following an increase in the number of attacks against Jews. 
A recent YouGov poll found that 54 per cent of British Jews feared they had no future in the UK and a quarter had considered leaving the country in the last two years. Another poll commissioned by YouGov found that 45 per cent of British people agreed with one of four anti-Semitic statements, while 25 per cent agreed with at least two.  

To read the full interview with Lord Glasman see tomorrow's Holyrood Magazine

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