LFI parliamentarians take part in Holocaust Memorial Day debate

LFI chair Steve McCabe MP

Ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January, a number of LFI parliamentarians have today taken part in a debate on Holocaust Memorial Day in the House of Commons.

In the context of Holocaust Memorial Day, LFI chair Steve McCabe MP reflected on recent commentary around the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas:

“When I hear protests about current events in Gaza, I wonder what we have learned. I deplore the killing and the suffering we are seeing there. I want a ceasefire and an end to the killing, an enduring peace and a two-state solution, with Palestinians and Israelis living side by side in recognised and secure independent states. I want that as much as anyone else. But I struggle when I hear marchers, demonstrators and protesters chant “Ceasefire now” in one breath, and “From the river to the sea” in the next. What are they saying? What have they learned, and what are they advocating? Some know well what they are doing, but others need to stop and spend a little more time learning the lessons of the past. They need to reflect on how little their behaviour shows a desire for peace, and how much it is encouraging division and hatred.

I also wonder at the genuinely concerned people who contact me about the deaths and suffering in Gaza but skip over the 7 October attack, and who use with ease terms such as “war crimes” and “genocide” to condemn Israel and the Israelis, but seem to have overlooked an attack on Israeli civilians that was based on torture, mutilation, rape, murder and hostage taking. Some even tell me that the Hamas attack needs to be understood because of Israel’s previous behaviour. They usually show little knowledge that Israel pulled out of Gaza and removed all its settlements there in 2005, in accordance with the peace accords, and was promised in return a demilitarised Gaza that could become something like a Singapore of the middle east. Two years later, Hamas took over Gaza, and it has been a launch pad for attacks on Israel ever since.

The Nazis took people in. They used excuses and demands. They talked about the suffering of the German people. They blamed the Jews. They offered seemingly plausible explanations for their actions, and they lied about their intentions, while laying plans to exterminate 6 million people.

I am, and I always will be, a friend of Israel and the Israeli people. I am not a fan of the current Prime Minister, and I totally disagree with him and others who oppose a two-state solution. I believe such views are an obstacle to peace, and that such attitudes and behaviour risk giving succour to those who oppose the very existence of the Jewish state. But I will not accept the blaming of the entirety of the Jewish people for things I dislike, and I will not demand higher standards of the world’s only Jewish state than we do of any other nation. We need to remember the holocaust, and the way that seemingly decent people resorted to cowardly, wicked and savage behaviour, designed to wipe out the Jewish people. Those who shout for peace and ceasefires but not for peace and reconciliation have not learned those lessons. Their shrill cries and disruption of meetings and events organised by those who will not support them are dishonest and irrational, and show how much more we need to strive to learn the lessons of history, and why we cannot ever afford to ignore real genocide and the events of the holocaust.”

Earlier, LFI parliamentary supporter Margaret Hodge MP had discussed her visit to Israel with LFI on a solidarity delegation earlier this month in her speech.

She said: “This is the last time I shall have the privilege of participating in this important debate, but it could not be a more difficult and depressing time to do so. I have just returned from a short visit to Israel. We went to support the people who lived on Kfar Azar, a kibbutz that we had visited in February last year. Many of those living on the kibbutz were people committed to peaceful co-existence with their neighbours in Gaza, but tragically many were killed on 7 October, many who survived are distraught because their loved ones were captured as hostages, and many, especially the women, were treated with the utmost abominable, sadistic cruelty, sexually assaulted in utterly inhumane ways, and then murdered. Israel and its people are experiencing a national trauma and a real, existential fear for their survival, with memories of the holocaust at the heart of their minds; and the same is true in Gaza, with innocent civilians experiencing a similar national trauma, an identical existential fear and a comparable terror of genocide as they live with bombardment, death, injury, displacement, and a lack of humanitarian aid.”

You can read the entire debate here and here.