I was 24 when I first heard someone spout such appalling anti-Semitism. It really hit me, and I still remember the moment so clearly. Never before had I heard such disgusting and blatant racism, and it happened in a place I never expected to hear it – a newspaper newsroom.
Up until that point I don’t remember witnessing anti-Semitism. Perhaps that’s why this incident has stuck with me and is the reason why I’m passionately committed to calling it out whenever and wherever we see or hear it.
I was working away in the newsroom; our deadline was fast approaching and we had a newspaper to put together.
The newsroom hub manager, always one to share stories, started telling us a story about a friend of the family who owned the newspaper group we all worked for. This friend was a successful and wealthy businessman, until he went to prison for fraud. This is where we get to the anti-Semitism. One of the reporters piped up and in front of the office said very loudly and clearly ‘well he must have been a Jew.’ So, because he was rich and went to prison he had to be Jewish according to this reporter.
Imagine the shock I felt sitting at my desk, typing away to witness such foul anti-Semitism leave the mouth of a reporter I had respected. The room went silent, no one was typing anymore and we all sat in shock. I was angry. Never before in my life had I witnessed anti-Semitism, but there in a local newspaper newsroom I had heard someone repeat the same anti-Semitic tropes we’ve heard for centuries.
I’m proud of the fact that I was the only reporter, to my knowledge, who reported this anti-Semitic incident to the hub manager. The reporter was reprimanded and it never happened again, but you never really look at someone in the same way following an incident like this.
Ever since this incident I have been determined to call out anti-Semitism and all forms of racism whenever and wherever I see it.
As a white man, I will never experience the racial injustice black people and minority communities face, not just throughout their lives, but on a daily basis. However, I can educate myself, understand the injustices they face and use my position to do something about it.
This experience I have described to you in this article is why I believe Holocaust denial should be made illegal in the UK. Sixteen European countries and Israel have laws against Holocaust denial – its high time the UK made it illegal too.
Only last week we saw Wiley engage in anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. This is 21st Century Britain, and a high profile celebrity is tweeting such bile and hatred.
If, like me, you believe Holocaust denial should be made illegal in the UK then please join me in signing this petition.
It’s been just 80 years since the horrors of the Holocaust – and we can never let it happen again. If we’re to ensure it never happens again then it must be illegal to deny that it ever happened.