A group of Jewish residents of Stroud and their friends gathered today, Saturday 29th January, to promote Holocaust Memorial Day and expose and challenge what they described as racism and support for Holocaust Denial in The Light. A self-styled ‘truth paper’ that has been distributed nationally during the pandemic and is handed out on Stroud High Street on a weekly basis.
The group handed out leaflets from a stall on the High St, held placards opposing the publication, and talked to people about the Holocaust and Holocaust Memorial Day – which is held on the 27th January every year. There will also be a Holocaust Memorial Day event in Stroud on Sunday 30th January at 2 p.m. in Park Gardens, featuring speeches and readings, together with performances of anti-fascist songs the Stroud Red Band.
One member of the group, Hannah Boss said: “‘The Light’ newspaper, distributed through the “Stroud Info Hub”, has set itself up as a champion of freedom, but in doing so has brought on to the agenda much more sinister ‘freedoms’ than the right to speak out about the vaccine. In the November 2021 (Issue 15) edition of ‘The Light’, they sought to defend the racism of Graham Hart. He was convicted in August 2021 of Inciting Racial Hatred for broadcasting foul antisemitism, including denying the Holocaust, saying that Jews should be ‘wiped out’, making light of Auschwitz, and suggesting the diary of Anne Frank was a fraud. To invite people to empathise with an antisemite and to downplay the harm their words and calls to action can cause is to promote antisemitism. To defend someone like Hart and minimise the harm their words and actions cause is to promote hatred”.
The group has also written an in depth explanation and rebuke of the hate speech on Amplify Stroud.
The event follows previous opposition to the attendance of Sandi Adams, who has also published Holocaust denial and antisemitic content on her website as a speaker a ‘Freedom Rally’ held in Stratford Park, on 7th November 2020. A group had then written an open letter to the organisers of the event calling on them to withdraw the invitation to Adams.
Jeremy Green said: “Many of us have become increasingly concerned about The Light, the so-called ‘truth-paper’ distributed in the High Street on the anti-vax Information Hub. For some time it’s been giving platforms to figures from the extreme right. The last straw was a spirited defence of a Holocaust denier, in issue 15. Whatever we think of how to best deal with Covid, none of us should have anything to do with a paper that defends spreading racist hate, and we don’t want to see it on our streets.”
The group of Jewish residents of Stroud and their friends are inviting people to join them in making their opposition to The Light being handed out locally clear by signing their statement at tinyurl.com/TheLightStatement. The statement reads: “We the undersigned are residents of Stroud, Dursley, and other parts of Stroud District, and do not want to see The Light paper being distributed where we live. We have our own criticisms of the government’s approach to the pandemic. However, we are alarmed by The Light’s use of the pandemic to push support for antisemitism, Holocaust denial and racist hate speech – as well as for denial of climate change, NHS-bashing, and other reactionary views.”