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April 21, 2016 12:52 pm

In Contrasting Passover Messages, Britain’s Prime Minister Decries Antisemitism, Labour Leader Stresses ‘Universal Struggle for Liberation’

avatar by Lea Speyer

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UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

In his annual Passover message, published in Jewish NewsBritain’s prime minister said he is “determined to do everything in [his] power” to eliminate antisemitism across the country.

“As Jewish communities unite to celebrate the festival of Passover, our thoughts will turn to the increasing number of abhorrent antisemitic attacks over the past year,” Prime Minister David Cameron said. “Jewish communities, wherever in the world they are, must not be left to live in fear.”

Cameron called it “sad” that antisemitism still rages in Britain and said he believes in the power of the democratic values of his country, “where people are free to follow their faith and practice their rituals.”

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Cameron is not the only British official to issue a Passover message. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn — whose party is currently engulfed in a scandal amid accusations of antisemitism — also released a holiday statement, which — unlike Cameron’s — did not stress Jewish particularism or mention antisemitism.

“I have always been moved by the Passover story of the Israelite escape from enslavement,” he wrote. “It is a universal message of the struggle for liberation, and one that continues to inspire many who fight for justice and equality all over the world. The 19th century Rabbi of the North London Synagogue, Joseph Morris, summed up its meaning when he said: ‘Passover affirms the great truth that liberty is the inalienable right of every human being.’”

“That is the message I will be thinking of over the Pesach holiday. I believe it is an aim and a principle that every one of us can support and cherish,” Corbyn said.

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  • Dan

    Wow. Apparently it’s too difficult for Corbyn to simply acknowledge a Jewish holiday. I wonder what he says on Easter?

  • Jay Lavine

    Pesach is indeed a holiday of liberation, but that is not the whole story. It is closely linked with Shavuot, z’man matan torateinu, which occurs seven weeks later. The connection is clear: without the self-control taught by the Torah, freedom can be dangerous. As Virginia Woolf once said, “To enjoy freedom we must control ourselves.” Judaism, with its emphasis on morality, teaches the importance of exercising one’s freedom within prescribed limits as opposed to unbridled freedom.

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