Holocaust Memorial Day was on Wednesday 27 January this year and Sir David Amess spoke in the Debate on Holocaust Memorial Day 2021 on Thursday 28 January. Sir David honoured the Jews that unfairly lost their lives simply because they were Jewish.
Sir David said:
Although I myself am not a Jew but a Catholic, there is Jewish blood in each and every one of us. I would certainly have been proud to have been born a Jew, and I stand shoulder to shoulder with our local Jewish community at the Southend and Westcliff Hebrew Congregation, the Southend and District Reform synagogue and the recently arrived Hassidic Jews. Over the past two years, these people, who are my friends, have felt very vulnerable. I would like the Government to continue to support the work of the Community Security Trust, which does vital work to keep the Jewish community safe through the protective security grant.
I simply do not understand and have never understood antisemitism. The most important lesson from the holocaust is that although we cannot police the world, it is simply not acceptable to stand by and do and say nothing when genocide happens. For evil to prevail, all it needs is for good people to remain silent. I therefore support the genocide amendment to the Trade Bill. We should not be supporting genocide in any form—whether against the Jewish community, the Uyghurs or anyone else—and should instead be encouraging countries to improve their human rights records.
Each year, a tree-planting event is planned in Southend to commemorate the lives of those who died in the holocaust and more recent genocides. I am very much involved in that event, and have also had the great honour to lay a wreath and plant a tree at Yad Vashem. For two years I campaigned to have a statue of Raoul Wallenberg placed outside the Western Marble Arch synagogue, and Sigmund Sternberg led the fundraising campaign. Through the Schutz-Pass, Raoul Wallenberg saved the lives of 100,000 Jews in Hungary. It was one of the proudest moments of my life when in 1997 Her Majesty the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the President of Israel unveiled that statue. Although most of us mere mortals would not be able to replicate such valour, if Holocaust Memorial Day is anything, it is a time to honour such bravery and for each and every one of us, particularly in Parliament, to condemn antisemitism and genocide.