British TV Presenter Rachel Riley on Antisemitism: ‘This Should Be a National Scandal, Enough Is Enough’
British TV personality Rachel Riley called for stronger efforts to combat antisemitism in a speech on Tuesday at the UK Parliament.
Speaking at a reception hosted by the Holocaust Education Trust, Riley, whose mother is Jewish, said, “This needs a bigger spotlight. This should be a national scandal. We need action rather than words. I call on all people, the media and politicians from every side to stand with us and be louder against antisemitism. Enough is enough.”
The 33-year-old co-host of the British television game show “Countdown” has been the target of antisemitic attacks on social media since speaking out against Jew hatred in the UK’s Labour Party in September.
In her speech on Tuesday, the Oxford University graduate explained that she had researched the Holocaust to be able to fight the haters and spent six hours on Christmas Day watching educational videos on the history of antisemitism and the Holocaust.
She also listed the antisemitic insults she has received and abusive names she has been called by Labour supporters online.
“In the name of Labour, I’ve been called a hypocrite, lying propagandist, teeth, tits and ass, clothes-horse dolly-bird, weaponizer of antisemitism, fascist, right–wing extremist, Nazi sympathizer, Twitter-cancer, thick, Tory, brainwashed, an antisemite, white-supremacist, Zio-political trollster, not a real Jew, a child bully, bonkers mad conspiracy theorist, [and] a paedo-protector minion puppet whom my dead grandfather would be disgusted by.”
Riley acknowledged that speaking out against antisemitism could damage her TV career, while those attacking her could say what they wanted to “in all likelihood with impunity – yet one misplaced word from me could be ruinous.”
“We need to re-stack those odds. No one should have to risk their safety and jeopardize their career speaking out against antisemitism in Britain in 2019,” she said, before mentioning others who have called out the abuse, particularly former Labour members.
Riley also described her own Jewish identity as “confusing,” saying, “As a child, I knew not to sing the Jesus bit in the assembly hymns but the bacon sandwiches mum would feed us meant I didn’t quite know where we fit into all of this.”
“But one part of my Jewish identity, that forms part of my very being, is the deep and irreparable sorrow I feel in relation to the Holocaust,” she added.
She described her experience visiting the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp memorial museum in Poland for the first time in November and said she has never understood why the Nazis sought to exterminate the Jews, nor did she try to “empathize with their feelings or work out why anyone could ever think this was ‘noble.’”
Riley continued, “I thought all Jew-haters were like them, loud and proud, and acting through irrational hate which could neither be explained nor understood — and I also thought that the horrors of the Holocaust would mean that antisemitism would never rear its ugly head again. Sadly, I was wrong on both counts.”