Sir David Amess MP tragically lost his life today after being stabbed while meeting with constituents in Leigh-on-Sea.
While much will be said about Sir David Amess over the coming days, we thought we would take an opportunity to look at some key areas that might be overlooked by the media. In particular, we want to highlight his advocacy for Holocaust Education, his friendship with Israel and the Jewish community as well as his work in countering the Iranian regime.
His advocacy for Holocaust Education and tackling anti-Semitism
Amess campaigned for a statue of Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg to honour his work saving thousands of Jews.
The memorial was eventually installed at Great Cumberland Place, outside Western Marble Arch Synagogue, and was unveiled by Her Majesty the Queen in 1997.
He was regularly involved in Holocaust memorial events throughout the years and this year, on Holocaust Memorial Day, Sir David spoke in Parliament saying:
“Although I myself am not a Jew but a Catholic, there is Jewish blood in each and every one of us. I would certainly have been proud to have been born a Jew, and I stand shoulder to shoulder with our local Jewish community at the Southend and Westcliff Hebrew Congregation, the Southend and District Reform synagogue and the recently arrived Hassidic Jews. Over the past two years, these people, who are my friends, have felt very vulnerable. I would like the Government to continue to support the work of the Community Security Trust, which does vital work to keep the Jewish community safe through the protective security grant.
I simply do not understand and have never understood antisemitism. The most important lesson from the holocaust is that although we cannot police the world, it is simply not acceptable to stand by and do and say nothing when genocide happens. For evil to prevail, all it needs is for good people to remain silent. I therefore support the genocide amendment to the Trade Bill. We should not be supporting genocide in any form—whether against the Jewish community, the Uyghurs or anyone else—and should instead be encouraging countries to improve their human rights records.
Each year, a tree-planting event is planned in Southend to commemorate the lives of those who died in the holocaust and more recent genocides. I am very much involved in that event, and have also had the great honour to lay a wreath and plant a tree at Yad Vashem. For two years I campaigned to have a statue of Raoul Wallenberg placed outside the Western Marble Arch synagogue, and Sigmund Sternberg led the fundraising campaign. Through the Schutz-Pass, Raoul Wallenberg saved the lives of 100,000 Jews in Hungary. It was one of the proudest moments of my life when in 1997 Her Majesty the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and the President of Israel unveiled that statue. Although most of us mere mortals would not be able to replicate such valour, if Holocaust Memorial Day is anything, it is a time to honour such bravery and for each and every one of us, particularly in Parliament, to condemn antisemitism and genocide.”
His stand against Iran and support for Israel
Sir David Amess was a leading member of Conservative Friends of Israel and attended a number of events related to Israel. Meeting with Israel’s Ambassador to the UK Mark Regev on a number of occasions.
— Mark Regev (@MarkRegev) September 3, 2017
In 2018, he attended a celebration of Israel’s 70th Independence Day at a synagogue in his constituency.
I was delighted to join Rabbi Warren Elf and the congregation of Southend and District Reform Synagogue on Saturday to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the independence of the State of Israel. pic.twitter.com/YRy2mFPgfz
— Sir David Amess MP (@amessd_southend) April 24, 2018
Sir David Amess was also an advocate for freeing Iran from the grips of the Iranian regime.
In 2016, Amess took part in a Free Iran campaign saying his group “strongly condemns human rights violations in Iran, demanding a halt to executions and requires Iran to remove its revolutionary guards and mercenary forces from other countries especially Syria and Iraq.”
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) July 9, 2016
Speaking of Iran in Parliament in 2017, Amess said Iran’s influence in the Middle East was “dreadful” and lamented Iran’s treatment of Israel.
“Talking about wiping the state of Israel out of existence is absolutely disgraceful,” Amess said.
He also condemned Iran’s funding of terror saying, “It is absolutely disgraceful that its regime funds Hamas and Hezbollah.”
Tributes to Sir David Amess
Prime Minister Boris Johnson paid tribute to his colleague saying, “I think all our hearts are full of shock and sadness today.”
“He was killed in his constituency surgery in a church after almost 40 years of continuous service to the people of Essex and the whole of the United Kingdom.”
The Prime Minister continued, “The reason I think people are so shocked and added is he was one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics, and he also had an outstanding record on passing laws to help the most vulnerable, whether the people who are suffering from endometriosis, passing to end cruelty to animals or doing a huge amount to reduce the fuel poverty suffered by people up and down the country.”
“David was a man who believed passionately in this country and in its future. And we’ve lost today a fine public servant and a much-loved friend and colleague. And our thoughts are very much today with his wife and his children and his family,” the Prime Minister concluded.
All our hearts are full of shock and sadness at the death of Sir David Amess MP.
He was one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics. pic.twitter.com/SIx6SZ1P3w
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) October 15, 2021
The All Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism said it was “devastated to learn of the death of our friend and colleague Sir David Amess MP. A long-standing and active member of the APPG Against Antisemitism, he was an excellent public servant. He will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his friends and family.”
Chief Rabbi Mirvis said: “As we usher in Shabbat this afternoon, we will have the family of Sir David Amess MP in our prayers. Such an attack on an elected parliamentarian is an attack on the whole country. May he his memory be for a blessing.”
The Jewish Leadership Council tweeted: “We are shocked by the news that Sir David Amess MP has passed away. He always had a very strong and warm relationship with his local Jewish community. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies, said: “We are horrified to hear the news of the attack on Sir David Amess MP. This violence against an elected politician, discharging their duties at a constituency surgery, is an affront to our democracy and must be met with the full force of the law.
“Sir David has long been a friend of our community. We are thinking of him and his loved ones .”
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said, “Sir David Amess dedicated his life to championing causes he believed in, serving constituents and his country for almost forty years as a Member of Parliament. He was a devout Roman Catholic whose deep faith fuelled his sense of justice. We are richer for his life, and we are all the poorer for his untimely death. We hold his family and loved ones in our prayers, that they might feel the comfort and peace of the Christ who suffers with us.”
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