Religion & Faith

Theresa May pledges to tackle shocking rise in antisemitism

JudaismThe government is committed to tackling the rise of antisemitism in Britain and is working to support the Jewish community in combatting it, Home Secretary Theresa May has said.

“It is truly shocking the extent to which we’ve seen antisemitism – verbal, physical, online – in recent weeks. This is not something that should be tolerated,” Mrs May said.

She is due to meet a delegation of Jewish leaders from the Community Security Trust, Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council to discuss tackling the problem.

Speaking to the JC in Parliament on Tuesday, Mrs May said the government was looking closely at the possible return to Britain of jihadis who have fought in Iraq and Syria. But she did not comment on any specific threat to the Jewish community from such individuals.

“We are working closely with a number of organisations including the CST to see what more can be done in terms of ensuring hate crime is dealt with properly by the police but also that there is protection,” she said.

On Monday she met Conservative MPs Mike Freer, Theresa Villiers, Lee Scott and David Burrowes to hear about “abhorrent and unacceptable” antisemitic hate crimes in their London constituencies.

“There is absolutely no place in our country for antisemitism, whatever form it takes,” she said.

Mrs May was also asked about the Board of Deputies’ joint statement with the Muslim Council of Britain. It caused concern among some deputies last month, with a number suggesting it was wrong to work with a group which has been involved in a series of controversies.

She said: “Different organisations must choose who they work with, who they deal with and what messages they are giving. We want to ensure there is in no sense government support or funding for organisations that we believe are extremist or could be generating an atmosphere in relation to terrorism.

“The government is very careful about the organisations with which it will work. It’s not for me to comment on what the Board does. It must make its decisions about how it operates and what it feels is appropriate.”

The Home Secretary confirmed that the government was also working with internet companies in an attempt to reduce the level of online hatred and improve prosecution rates for those who post racist comments on the internet.

“Things that appear online in a whole variety of cases are of concern – issues of antisemitism, extremism, other hate crimes. We talk to companies about their own policies and material they are willing to leave online. That work is ongoing.

“New guidance has been issued to police and the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to dealing with these matters.”

Referring to MPs in other parties who make offensive comments about Israel, the Conservative cabinet member said: “I don’t believe any party should tolerate people stirring up hatred and antisemitism. People should not live in fear on the basis of their race or religion.”

Mrs May told a Conservative Friends of Israel reception in Parliament on Tuesday evening about her first visit to the country in July.

On security threats against Israel, she said: “No democratic government could, in the face of such danger, do anything but maintain strong defence and security capability and be prepared to deploy it if necessary. That’s why I and the whole British government will always defend Israel’s right to defend itself.”

The packed reception was attended by around a dozen Tory MPs and Peers, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and party veteran Ken Clarke.

Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub said: “This is a summer Israelis and many others are not unhappy to see the end of. It’s been an extraordinarily difficult and challenging summer – a time of immense suffering for the Palestinians, for Israelis, a time of great uncertainty.”




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