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.