Last Saturday we honoured Holocaust Memorial Day. We remembered the mothers and daughters, fathers and sons who lost their lives during a time of unparalleled inhumanity. We reaffirmed our ongoing responsibility as citizens to live out the admonition, “Never forget. Never again.”
Being ripped away from our houses and our lives seems almost unimaginable today. The emotional impact of having to leave their homes must have contributed to the great ordeal the Jewish people went through. Their belongings and more importantly their memories were being abandoned, as some were captured and others chose to flee.
It is deeply troubling, however, that I cannot refer to this as a thing of the past. As I speak, many immigrants are being torn from their homes in war zones across the globe. Imagine worrying about where your children were going to sleep and what was going to happen to your family.
The holocaust and the genocides in Rwanda, Cambodia, Yemen and Burma were very real. The persecution of Christians in Asia and Muslims in China are happening before our very eyes: these should be lessons to humanity. But the same pattern of demonisation and persecution repeats. Have we learned those lessons or are we just paying lip service to them?
My theme of ‘Love not Hate’ this year and my aim to unite communities, strengthening the bonds of friendship and understanding between mankind, is the perfect antidote to hate and fear. My aim is to make this city a beacon for kindness and humanity.
From this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day we can take away more than one message. We must help and support those who have been torn from their homes. We must stand up for them in our communities and schools. And we must voice our belief in a UK which cares about the homes of all who live in it.
Our Jewish brothers and sisters almost lost their history to violence. It is our duty to make sure this never happens, by making sure we always remember what their people endured. Hatred is something that we must fight together, as one strong community, and I am proud to live in a country which embraces people of all backgrounds and faiths.
It takes bravery and courage to stand up to those that seek to divide us and I am so proud of the fact that Cllr Marc Bayliss, leader of the City Council, stood up to a group that sought to spread their hate a couple of weeks ago. Thank you Marc – you lead by example and embraced this city’s moral values and ethos.