A cabinet minister from Britain’s ruling Conservatives on Monday recalled Nazi Germany’s persecution of Europe’s Jews, including his own father, as he highlighted anti-Semitism in the rival Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn.
Dominic Raab, who as secretary of state for exiting the European Union is responsible for overseeing the so-called Brexit process, discussed in an address to the Conservative Party annual conference the need to confront racism. His comments drew a 45-second standing ovation.
Corbyn has faced accusations — including from lawmakers within his own faction — that he has not done enough to confront alleged deep-rooted anti-Semitism in the party. He has also been accused of harboring anti-Semitic sentiments himself.
“I say to Labour: You’d be surprised how many British people take this personally,” Raab said at the conference in Birmingham, according to The Times. “They know things that you choose to forget. Eighty years ago, 1938, Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia. The lucky few fled, some of them to Britain.
“One Jewish family arrived in England with a little boy called Peter,” he continued. “He was six years old and he spoke no English. That little boy grew up knowing that his grandmother, grandfather, most of his relatives, the loved ones left behind, had been systematically murdered for no other reason than that they were Jews.
“He never forgot what had happened to his family. That little boy was my father and I will honor his memory by fighting the scourge of antisemitism and racism until my last breath.
“None of us can rest until Corbyn, McDonnell and their extremist gang have been driven back to the margins where they belong,” he said, referring to top Labour MP John McDonnell.
Raad told the gathering that Labour operatives were using tools of “intimidation, fanaticism, and scapegoating, especially against Jews.”
“The cozying up to Holocaust deniers and terrorists,” he continued, “the casual equation of Jews with the Israeli government, the vicious abuse leveled at their own Jewish MPs — that a once great mainstream party could stoop so low is a stain on Britain.”
The Labour leader has in the past been criticized for calling terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” when inviting members for a parliamentary meeting in 2009. He later downplayed the comment and said he regretted using the term.
Last month, Corbyn insisted he was not an anti-Semite, but refused to apologize for a series of incidents involving him and other party members that have drawn accusations of rampant anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment.
The crisis over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party has caused a major schism within its ranks and led Jews to express fears over their future in the country.
Britain’s former chief rabbi, Lord (Jonathan) Sacks, has branded Corbyn a dangerous anti-Semite.