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The British All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism

The British All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism
Well the All-Party Group against Antisemitism has existed for around thirty years in the British Parliament. I’ve chaired it for the last ten-eleven years, and it covers all political parties within the British Parliament - members of Parliament only, and its origins and its purpose are to combat antisemitism. Our approach is really quite straightforward - politicians at the national level are elected to be political leaders, and therefore our duty is to combat discrimination, racism, and therefore it’s right and proper that politicians should be at the forefront of combating antisemitism, and that’s how we see our role. And the way we operate - we work cross-party, which is very unusual in politics. Normally politicians spend most of the time attacking each other.
We try to build cooperation, but not hiding away from difficult issues. And what we attempt to do is ensure, firstly, that there is no antisemitism of any kind inside the British Parliament. So anybody who crosses the line deliberately or ignorantly in their language or any other commentary - we challenge them, and we challenge them directly, and we either re-educate them or we silence them. And we have a very strong track record of success in that. We attempt to persuade government on what it should do. And I think the key picture of our success is always whether our priorities and policies continue whenever there’s a change of government.
And we’ve had three changes of government at the last elections in this country, but our priorities and our interaction with the government has remained constant all the way through. That says to me that we have been effective. So we’re persuading the bureaucracy, the civil service, the officials of what we’re doing. But whoever is the government, whoever is Prime Minister, whoever is the minister - in some ways they’re our prisoner because we’ve won the intellectual argument, the ideogeological debate that Parliament should play a key role in combating antisemitism.
Our membership is of course including Jewish members of Parliament, or those who have significant Jewish voters, but my approach very deliberately has to be to ensure that the public face, that the leading figures, that the key advocates are those who are not Jewish and do not have many Jewish voters, because nobody can ever challenge us as going from self-interest, personal self-interest or because of the interests and the requirement to placate the voters. We believe that it’s everybody’s duty to deal - I call it “your own backyard”, with your own locality, with your own workplace, with your own political party, to deal with your own problems first and not to leave that to other people.
And that’s been very deep-rooted in our approach and that’s sometimes difficult and painful. People are always happy to deal with other people’s problems. Well we also but we do first deal with our own problems. And I think that gives us a credibility, gives us credibility with the Jewish community. However cynical commentators might want to be, they find it difficult to attack us on our motives or on our preparedness to speak out. As long as we do that we can be a powerful voice, and then if Parliament takes a lead it’s much easier for us to challenge the rest of society that they should do their bit.
Our real question’s always been whether it’s ignorance or whether it’s calculated hatred, because that requires different responses. If it’s ignorance we can educate and that’s relatively easy to do. If it’s calculated ignorance and calculated hatred that’s deliberate and pre-planned, that needs a much more robust, a much more aggressive response. And I say aggressive politically, that’s what we do - we challenge those people and we don’t simply hope that they’ll go away.
See I would sum up the approach: We want everyone to do their little bit, and that starts with the National politicians. So that is the role of a cross-party all parliamentary group attempting to combat antisemitism in the United Kingdom, and I think it’s a model that I would recommend to every other democratic country in the world.

John Mann MP

The British Labour Party MP introduces the activities and approach to confronting antisemitism of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism, presenting the important distinction between ignorance and deliberate hatred.

What is your opinion on this distinction? Can you provide examples from your own experience or from your internet research that demonstrate the distinction made by MP John Mann?

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Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present

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