Jarrow MP’s tribute to Holocaust dead

FIGHTING PREJUDICE ... Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn signs a book of commitment in the House of Commons.
FIGHTING PREJUDICE ... Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn signs a book of commitment in the House of Commons.

JARROW MP Stephen Hepburn has paid tribute to those who perished during the Holocaust and praised the survivors who work to educate young people about what they endured.

Mr Hepburn made his comments as he signed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, pledging his support to yesterday’s Holocaust Memorial Day.

Yesterday was the 68th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the Nazi concentration and extermination camp which is the site of the largest mass murder in history.

Survivors work tirelessly in schools with the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Outreach programme.

Mr Hepburn said: “Holocaust Memorial Day is an important opportunity to remember the victims of it and subsequent genocides. I encourage all constituents to fight against prejudice and intolerance.”

An estimated 1,500 events took place all over the UK to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

The theme this year was “build a bridge”, with people asked to build symbolic bridges between communities so atrocities such as the Holocaust are not repeated.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Memorial Day is a day to remember the innocent victims of the Holocaust, and re-commit to combat all forms of racism and prejudice.”

Of the Holocaust Educational Trust, he said: “It’s work is absolutely vital in making sure that we always remember what happened.”

*Organisers of the memorial day have today “utterly condemned” a Liberal Democrat MP who accused “the Jews” of atrocities against Palestinians.

David Ward has apologised for the comments posted on his website and is facing disciplinary action by his party. Campaigners blasted his comparison between Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and the Holocaust.

Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said: “We utterly condemn those original remarks that he made. The Holocaust was a unique event. It was a tragedy of unique proportions and scale.

“We condemn utterly any attempts to make comparisons between that event and any other atrocities that are going on across the world.

“We are glad to hear he has made an apology.”

The Bradford East MP said he “never for a moment intended to criticise or offend the Jewish people as a whole, either as a race or as a people of faith, and apologise sincerely for the unintended offence which my words caused”.

In his original online blog, Mr Ward said: “Having visited Auschwitz twice – once with my family and once with local schools – I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

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