Lessons we’ve learned from Paris
THE MURDERS at the kosher supermarket in Paris shocked the world. Thousands took to the streets to proclaim “Je Suis Juif”, echoing earlier displays of solidarity with the murdered journalists of Charlie Hebdo.
European Jews had been killed once again for the “crime” of being Jewish. There can be no greater consequence to indict those who allow antisemitism to fester unchallenged.
As vice-chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, we were privileged to join this week’s delegation to Paris. Accompanied by representatives of the Civil Service and the Metropolitan Police, the trip was held with the events of January still raw in our memories. The message with which we return is simple: there can be no complacency in the fight against antisemitism, at home or abroad.
The tour lasted two days and included meetings with communal leaders, politicians, and police. While the reawakening of antisemitism in France has resulted in greater violence than in Britain, there are clear parallels to be drawn.
On campus, it was shamefully unsurprising to hear of French Jewish
Police patrol at Hyper Cacher students shut out of union debates owing to feverish anti-Zionism. A quick comparison of the press releases of the Union of Jewish Students in both France and Britain reveals a distressing likeness. Similarly, our meeting with communal leader Crif President Roger Cukierman saw him reflect upon concerns we hear in meetings with the Board of Deputies.
It was interesting to hear from our counterparts in the Assemblée Nationale on how Prime Minister Valls’s address in January, in which he described antisemitism as “a crisis of democracy”, has translated into practical action.
The armed security protecting community institutions is testimony to the challenges facing French society at large. We must ensure a similar scenario does not happen here.
The Jewish community should not have to feel like a prisoner in its own home. Religious practices should be a focus of joy, not fear. Political engagement should be free of age-old tropes, especially those ill-disguised by the mask of absolute contempt for Israel.
As APPG on Antisemitism members, we will endeavour to sustain the national conversation on this vital issue. Our delegation to Paris was shown the unacceptable consequences of complacency, and we must reject it at every turn. Tulip Siddiq is MP for Hampstead and Kilburn; Wes Streeting is MP for Ilford North