The Home Office is increasing the Government’s financial commitment to protecting the Jewish community by an additional £600,000 each year. Taking the annual budget to keep Britain’s Jewish community safe to £14 million.
The news was delivered by Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, who announced this week that Hezbollah, a terrorist group committed to the destruction of Israel, has been banned in the UK.
Ahead of his speech to the annual Community Security Trust (CST) dinner, Mr Javid said he was raising the funding from its current £13.4 million in part because of the record number of antisemitic incidents reported in 2018.
Distributed by the CST, the money goes towards equipment and staffing costs to protect Jewish buildings and events, including schools and communal centres, with Labour MP Ruth Smeeth last week suggesting that the funding should be agreed on a multi-year basis, rather than on a year-by-year basis as at present.
On the spectre of antisemitism online, Javid also explained that the upcoming Online Harms White Paper will help clean up the “darkest corners of the internet” by setting out plans to compel tech companies to do more to protect UK citizens.
CST chief executive David Delew paid tribute to the Government’s commitment to the security of the British Jewish community, which now stands at £51 million since 2015, adding that he was “extremely grateful” for the funding boost.
“At a time of rising antisemitism, when Jewish people are increasingly worried about growing hatred and division in our society, this vital support will give renewed reassurance to the Jewish community that we do not stand alone,” said Delew. (Source: Jewish News)
Record high anti-Semitism in the UK
In February, CST released a report saying 1,652 antisemitic incidents were reported in the UK in 2018. The report says “extremist” language and imagery, including references to the Nazis, were now being seen in almost half of all incidents, compared to less than a third in previous years.
While some anti-Semitic reaction was linked to the controversy over the Labour Party’s handling of anti-Semitism and events at Israel’s southern border in Gaza, CST said there was no specific “trigger” for this year’s record level of reported incidents.
“Whereas previous high annual totals in 2014 and 2009 were almost entirely due to reactions to conflicts involving Israel, there has been no single trigger event to cause any of the high annual totals in recent years,” they said. “As was the case in 2017, there was no single, specific event in 2018 to cause a sudden and temporary spike.”
For the first time ever, there were more than 100 incidents every month of the year, showing sustained high levels, and for the first time since 2015, the charity recorded an incident of “extreme violence,” with “potential loss of life or grievous bodily harm”.
CST said there were 122 incidents of assault last year, of which 101 were “random attacks on Jewish people in public spaces,” 57 of these against people who were “visibly Jewish”. Sixty-six antisemitic incidents in 2018 targeted synagogues; 30 incidents involved congregants on their way to or from prayers, while another 20 assaults were recorded against Jewish schoolchildren.
There also seemed to be a connection between an increase in incidents and the prominence of ongoing arguments about antisemitism in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. CST recorded 148 antisemitic incidents in 2018 that were examples of, or took place in the context of, arguments over alleged Labour antisemitism.
CST chief executive David Delew said: “Three years of rising antisemitic incidents shows the scale of the problem facing the Jewish community. This is happening across society and across the country and it reflects deepening divides in our country and our politics.”
He added: “Jewish people are on the receiving end of this hatred but it must not be left to us to tackle alone.”
The rise of anti-Semitism to record levels in the UK gives further reason for the work of CUFI and the importance of Christians to stand against anti-Semitism. Last year, CUFI UK launched a campaign, Christians Against Antisemitism, in which more than 10,000 people raised their voice in solidarity with the Jewish community in the UK.
If you would like to add your name to the Christians Against Anti-Semitism Declaration, click here.