Lord Janner awarded the freedom of the City of Gibraltar

Lord Janner awarded the freedom of the City of Gibraltar

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Lord Janner awarded the freedom of the City of Gibraltar

This Thursday in a ceremony at John Mackintosh Square Lord Greville Janner was awarded the freedom of the City of Gibraltar.

The ceremony lasted 30 minutes. It started and ended with an abridged National Anthem. Shamus Byrne was compère and Yvette Zarb acted as as Usher. The mayor gave a speech describing Lord Greville Janner’s history.

Lord Janner thanked the Mayor for his very kind words and was visibly moved, mentioned Momy Levy and thanked all his family and friends for being there.

Finally he extended his offer of help to all Gibraltarians.

The following is the text of the address given by the Mayor of Gibraltar Julio J Alcantara M.B.E.

Your Excellency, Chief Minister, distinguished guests, on behalf of the people of Gibraltar, I bid you welcome to this ceremonial granting of the Freedom of this gracious and unique city, the City of Gibraltar. I bid an even warmer welcome to one special person – SHALOM, Lord Janner, welcome friend of Gibraltar.

I have been strongly advised by his friends not to get too close to him. Interested in magic at the ripe age of 12 and a long-standing member of the Magic Circle and the International Brotherhood of Magicians one can but wonder what he might make disappear ! A prolific writer and expert on matters of public speaking, I stand in awe of addressing you in front of the author of “Janner’s Speechmaker.”

Perhaps because we are a small and vulnerable community, for centuries living under the menacing clouds of those who would wish us ill – we constantly draw veritable political heavyweights to our shores ; democrats of integrity who consistently and freely offer us their friendship and take on our defence – today we honour one such friend , Baron Janner of Braunstone. In the wise words of Sirach : ” Faithful friends are beyond price: no amount can balance their worth,” indeed, as Proverbs tells us, “some friends are more loyal than brothers.”

Perhaps because at the ripe age of 18 he experienced at first hand the obscene consequences of the Holocaust; working in the War Crimes Investigation Unit near Bergen-Belsen; Greville Janner’s life has been dedicated to the abolition of racial prejudice and hatred; and towards ensuring that the memory and lesson of the Holocaust is neither obscured nor lost. Indeed, his father was on Hitler’s death list had Britain succumbed to the Nazi threat. Once President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews; Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress and the Jewish Leadership Council; Founder and President of the Commonwealth Jewish Council; Chairman of the Holocaust Educational Trust’s Mass Graves Committee – these years of selfless service says it all.

His best testimony lies in his book: “ONE HAND ALONE CANNOT CLAP” – a heartfelt message that led to the co-founding of the COEXISTENCE TRUST, together with Prince Hassan of Jordan, to combat prejudice against Jews and against Moslems. I for one would like to believe that it is the great lesson this community teaches others, a lesson in religious and racial tolerance, a lesson in communal harmony, that most attracted Lord Janner to our shores and made him our friend.

As a fellow barrister and politician, he was already well acquainted with Sir Joshua Hassan, our then Chief Minister, when he was instrumental in setting up in Gibraltar the very first Conference of the Commonwealth Jewish Council. As its President, he was extremely keen that Gibraltar receive international prominence as hosts of this first Conference. Among the many dignitaries that came to Gibraltar, was Sir Zelman Cowan, former Governor General of Australia.

In 2002, still under his presidency, our Jewish community were given the prestigious Council’s Communal Award – bringing high-level publicity for Gibraltar at an international level – awarded as it was in the presence of the likes of Lady Margaret Thatcher and other dignitaries.

A Member of Parliament from 1970 to 1997, he represented Leicester North West and later Leicester West, holding the seat for Labour. Throughout this time he was assiduous in following and supporting Gibraltar’s interest in the myriad workings of the Mother of Parliaments; a loyal friend that could be counted on to raise judicious points and timely Questions on our behalf, whenever and wherever it became necessary. Both his maiden speeches, in 1970 in the Commons and in 1997 in that other place, both were about Gibraltar, the latter one defending our right to self-determination. Having first visited Gibraltar in 1938 as a boy of 10, throughout a lifetime, he has maintained his interest in things Gibraltarian through regular visits to our shores, zealously nurturing his many friendships with the local community, dare I mention Momy!

It was during one of his many visits to the Rock in 1997 that he learned of his elevation to the Upper House. Appropriately, it was here that he celebrated this honour with his family and friends, though sadly his wife, Myra Sheink, had recently passed away. In fact, if you look him up in Wikipedia, you will find not simply a portrait of Lord Janner, but no less than the Gibraltar flag as the background !

His three children and six grandchildren have difficult steps to follow.
Such is the measure of this man; the man that adopted Gibraltar and became its friend and defender, and whom today we adopt and make him one of our own. Lord Greville Janner, Baron Janner of Braunstone, HABAYIT SHELANU ZEH HABAYIT SHEL’CHA – our home is your home.

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Lord Janner awarded the freedom of the City of Gibraltar

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