Board leaders hold positive meeting with Home Secretary on extremism, antisemitism and the refugee crisis

Board President Jonathan Arkush and colleagues met the Home Secretary on Monday September 21 to discuss extremism, antisemitism and the refugee crisis.

Mr Arkush said that the current refugee crisis has a “historic resonance”’ for the Jewish community and outlined cross-communal plans in the Jewish community to offer support on this crucial issue. Mr Arkush also welcomed the appointment of Watford MP Richard Harrington as the Government’s lead on delivering the resettlement of Syrian refugees and looked forward to working with him to address the challenges.

The Board’s President offered the Home Secretary the Board’s support in developing constructive engagement with Muslim communities aimed at tackling antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of extremism. He said that the British Jewish experience of being at once a religious minority and proudly British was one that could prove to be a model to other communities – and that British Jews and Muslims had much in common that could and should lead to strong bonds.

The Board’s representatives, who also included Vice President Marie van der Zyl and CEO Gillian Merron, raised issues of antisemitism, including recently attempted racist demonstrations in Golders Green and Liverpool, as well as the particular challenge of hatred online, including on social media. The Home Secretary described how the Government was dealing with these challenges, but said that the Home Office welcomed further suggestions about what more they could do, which would challenge hate speech whilst guaranteeing free speech.

After the meeting, the Board’s President, Jonathan Arkush, said, “The Home Secretary is no stranger to the Board or the Jewish community, having been an empathetic and conscientious supporter of the fight against the threats we face. We look forward to continuing our work with her and the Community Security Trust to create a Britain free of hatred”.

The Home Secretary said: “It was a pleasure to meet the Board of Deputies again yesterday. I greatly value the support of Britain’s Jewish community in overcoming some of the biggest challenges we face, whether that is providing refuge to the victims of conflict in Syria, combating anti-Semitism and hate crime, or standing united to beat the extremists who wish to divide us.”

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