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November 26, 2021 2:31 pm
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Holocaust Survivors Meet With British Cricketer After Row Over Antisemitic Comments

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Lily Ebert showing her tattoo from the Auschwitz concentration camp to Azeem Rafiq. Photo: YouTube screenshot

Two Holocaust survivors met with a British former cricket player on Thursday to discuss antisemitism, Jewish life and the Holocaust after his past antisemitic comments about Jews were revealed.

Auschwitz survivor and TikTok sensation Lily Ebert had a sit-down conversation with former Yorkshire cricketer Azeem Rafiq, and together, they visited the Kinloss Synagogue in Finchley with her grandson, Dov Forman.

Rafiq had earlier testified before the British parliament about discrimination he faced while playing for Yorkshire County Cricket Club. He has since apologized for the antisemitic comments from 2011 that subsequently emerged, saying he had “absolutely no excuses.”

Britain’s Jewish News and Forman, who co-wrote Ebert’s memoir earlier this year, helped organize the meeting.

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A tour of the synagogue, where Forman held his bar mitzvah ceremony, was led by Kinloss Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence, who explained various parts of the temple and its many rituals. Rafiq was also shown a Torah scroll, which Forman then read from.

Ebert, who lives in the UK, started a TikTok account with the help of her grandson to educate people about the Holocaust, and now boasts over 1.5 million followers.  She showed Rafiq the numbered tattoo she got at the Auschwitz concentration camp and said, “Everybody who was there got a number. [We] were not people anymore, we were numbers.”

Rafiq asked Ebert questions about her family, admitted that he had not previously heard of the Auschwitz concentration camp, and was given a copy of her memoir, which he said he would read, Jewish News reported. After sharing her life story with Rafiq, Ebert told him, “when somebody is different, it doesn’t mean they are better or worse. We should be tolerant with each other.” Rafiq replied that it is important for her to publicize her experiences “to remember, in order that events are not repeated.”

Ebert shared a clip of her talk with Rafiq on Tiktok and the video has already garnered over 10,000 likes.

Rafiq also met on Thursday with Holocaust survivor and Kindertransport refugee Ruth Barnett. She told Rafiq, “Humanity seems to need to have somebody to blame, somebody to hate, and the Jews have always been a very convenient scapegoat … because most people don’t knowingly know a Jew … It’s a very convenient way of getting rid of your own hateful, nasty feelings and thoughts that you don’t want inside yourself. Just dump them all on the Jews.”

“When you start meeting a few Jews, that brings you up short,” she added. “You have to start thinking, ‘Is this person, who’s just like, me a Jew? How do I square that difference?’ That really gets people thinking. So I would recommend that everybody is introduced to a few Jews and find out that they’re just normally human, flaws and all.”

Also on Thursday, Rafiq toured the Jewish Museum London, where he was shown artifacts from the Holocaust, and held a meeting with representatives from the Community Security Trust and Campaign Against Antisemitism.

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