The following letter appeared in the Guardian this week:

“A week after the devastating fire that consumed Grenfell Tower in June 2017, I joined a march of silence from the library in Ladbroke Grove to Grenfell Tower.

Nothing prepared me as I raised my eyes to look at the terrible and shocking black shell of the tower, as though transplanted from hell’s own landscape – an unsightly and menacing frame, a blind, burnt, blackened towering box, its empty glassless windows a shocking indictment of negligence and all that is morally ugly in our society.

I am haunted by that image, as I imagine many others are, seeing the Bibby Stockholm barge moored in Portland, Dorset, and reading the descriptions of its claustrophobic cabins and corridors, the risks of fire and illness, the fear of those who are now taking up residence in what will become an overcrowded, dangerous and humiliating space for people arriving in this country.

How can we hold up our heads in pride and dignity when a member of parliament, the Conservative deputy chair, backed by the justice secretary, speaks of human beings in demeaning and disgusting language (Downing Street backs Tory deputy chair over ‘back to France’ comments, 8 August)?

What kind of society are we that cannot offer individuals seeking asylum from persecution, war, domestic violence and trafficking a home, a place to work and educate their children. We have lost our dignity, our compassion, our ability to reach out with kindness, with creative and constructive ideas for guests in this country. How can we subject guests in our country to the dangers and degradation of living in what is effectively a prison?

No one in this country should associate themselves with expressions of racism, hatred, hostility and blatant rejection, whether expressed by an MP or any other insensitive and inhuman individual. I feel ashamed, and so should those who govern our country.”
Alexandra Wright
Senior rabbi, The Liberal Jewish Synagogue; president, Liberal Judaism