There was widespread coverage of a new video emanating from a reportedly British representative of the barbarous Islamic State this week. This is not the first video from the group of course. At the end of 2015 a Hebrew language video, threatening that ‘we will move to eradicate the disease’ of the Jewish people ‘worldwide’ was published, highlighting the antisemitic racism which is so fundamental to that extremist Islamist ideology.
Terrorism is but one aspect of modern global antisemitism. With the growth of technology and in particular social media, this persistent racism has again been updated and renewed and so our response to it must be updated, modernised and globalised.
Today, Labour member of parliament and deputy speaker Natascha Engel is joining with vice-president of the Bundestag, Petra Pau to announce that the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combatting Antisemitism will convene a major inter-parliamentary conference in Berlin in March 2016 to be co-hosted by the German government and addressed by the German chancellor Angela Merkel.
With others, I convened the ICCA in London in 2009 in the hope that parliaments could share knowledge of good practice and effective measures to combat antisemitism. The two declarations emanating from our global conferences signed by political leaders and parliamentarians from across the world demonstrated an important symbolic commitment to combat anti-Jewish hatred. However, our reputation will be judged by action and so we established a key taskforce which brought together internet industry giants, politicians and experts to find solutions to combatting internet hate. We secured sign-up to a statement of principles that the participating industry stakeholders have supported and which serve as a framework through which those companies can and have sought to address cyber-hate. Our forthcoming conference will be a good opportunity to solidify this work, to speak with those involved in the group and to produce a new set of actions to improve action against antisemitism and other racism online across the globe.
In the United Kingdom, we have been seeking to establish best practice. In the last parliament, Natascha Engel chaired an inquiry into electoral conduct. This was the first time parliamentarians had systemically analysed electoral life with a view to eliminating racism and discrimination from it. Antisemitic and other racist hate being peddled during elections is not a uniquely British phenomenon and I intend to deliver our learning from that inquiry and our subsequent all-party inquiry into antisemitism at the conference.
Today marks the start of a 10-week journey to the Berlin conference. My hope over this period is that we can build awareness of our work and I encourage parliamentarians interested in attending to contact my office. Surely the commitment of politicians to act will put perpetrators of antisemitism on notice that the world is watching and will not stand idly by while anti-Jewish hatred is on the rise.
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