Four generations of defying antisemitism

JVL introduction

Below is  statement by Rica Bird, read out at a Labour Party Local Campaign Forum in the Wirral

Four generations of defying antisemitism

Rica Bird, 1st March 2019

I’m Rica Bird, a member of Jewish Voice for Labour. I felt shocked at the suspension of Chris Williamson earlier this week, and because of this and related matters I’m concerned about, I’m making this statement.

I feel at one and the same time both sorry and defiant. I feel bitterly disappointed with some of the actions, and/or lack of action, of our Party.  On the other hand I feel very defiant towards those actions, and also very proud of how at least 4 generations of my family have defied anti-Semitism.

My Grandma and her mother, poor Jewish peasants, fled to Britain from the terror of pogroms and persecution of the marauding Cossacks in Russian Tsarist-occupied Poland at the turn of the 20th Century; my father, her son, as a Jewish working-class conscript in the British Army defied the Nazi onslaught during the terror of the Second World War. I, as a 7-year-old in my local council Junior school with 70% Jewish pupil population, of which I was one, defied the terror of the openly antisemitic headmaster; and my daughter, Jo, has spoken to many of you here, and elsewhere, with her own unique eloquence in defiance of the ever-present real and alleged terror of present-day antisemitism.

Despite, and because of these, and other factors, I feel very safe here, in Wirral Labour party, amongst colleagues, and allies, and have always felt so, during all the years I have been active in our great Labour movement, going right back to when I was a 4 year-old at the childrens’ activity days organised by the well-respected National Assembly of Women.  For most of the 6 decades since, I have not taken the destiny of our Party for granted, either locally, or nationally. I feel it’s important we succeed in winning a Labour Government here in our UK nations, which upholds the Socialist and human rights values which those of us here believe and campaign for. This would be a beacon beyond our shores, in Europe and further afield, for all peoples who currently defy real antisemitism, and other similar oppressions, so we can better combat the rise of ultra-right and fascist movements, and their in-built anti-human threats.


Comments (2)

  • Richard Hayward says:

    Thank you for that.

    Many Labour members, both Jews and non-Jews are incensed by the careless travesty of personal experience that the scam perpetrators represent.

  • John says:

    What a wonderful statement.
    As a non-Jewish associate member of JVL, I think we all have to work together to combat the rising hysterical tide of false claims of antisemtism within and against the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn.
    Like Rica and other informed members of JVL and the Labour Party, we are all too aware that the Niemoller Doctrine could apply to us all, whether Jewish or otherwise.

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