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The strength of the message of Holocaust Memorial Day was clearly demonstrated by the discussion on Radio 4’s Today yesterday. It was about how to continue the work of survivors going into schools and other community groups to bear witness and argue “never again”, now that there are fewer living survivors of the Holocaust. The children of the survivors are asking to be able to continue to tell their parents story and talk about the impact this has had on their own lives. There are of course also survivors from the genocides which have happened since the second world war, in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, who are part of this work.

I was also struck yesterday by the strength of friendship across race and religion, when a Bengali girl came to our school office obviously not at all well, but not wanting to go home because her friend would not have anyone to play with – her friend being white. In my blog on this last year I wrote about the father of a friend of mine at school who is a holocaust survivor, Roman Halter. I realise how that friendship and the experience of meeting her father, shaped much of my life, along with other friendships with Asian and Iranian and African girls. And my mum working in the library in Wealdstone, Harrow with Asian colleagues who became friends. And my dad’s stories of his national service in Libya….

Encouraging such friendships and experiences of listening to testimony are not enough though to prevent fascism and genocide happening again. I had a message that the BNP were out canvassing in Jarrow again last weekend, trying to harness people’s justified anger with the government and with the world in general to their viciously racist cause.

We must not let them win, we must get out there and offer people a different focus for their anger. We Greens must get out there even more determinedly with our positive vision of what the world could be, to engage more people in the struggle for economic, social and environmental justice. Otherwise we leave the field open to the BNP, as none of the big 3 parties offer any real change to the disastrous way things are run now.

More opportunities to do just that coming up with the local election campaign – we’ll be out knocking on doors on Sunday in South Shields. And we’re busy in our Public Services Alliance, with stalls and getting signatures for the petition against the cuts. We’re organising a lobby of the Council’s Cabinet meeting on 16 February (4pm at South Shields Town Hall) which will decide where the axe will fall – and threatens to agree more privatisation. We’ll be at the rally in Newcastle for public services on Saturday 5 February at Monument 1 – 2pm, where we hope our community choir Making Waves will be leading the singing of our two anti-cuts songs.

Tomorrow I’m off to a workshop Million Climate Jobs: Solving the economic and environmental crises open to trade unionists, environmentalists and all wishing to discuss green jobs and economic alternatives.  Organised by PCS union from 1 – 4 pm at the Bridge Hotel, Newcastle.

As ever, so much to do, but great to find like-minded people – friends….

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