Board’s role in fighting Anti Semitism

The Board spoke at Sunday’s Campaign Against Anti Semitism Rally.

We were greatly encouraged by the numbers in attendance and as you will read  below, we are operating on numerous fronts to ensure that the law is used much more robustly to bring those who discriminate against Jews to task.

How we are responding by raising the issue of Anti Semitism

The Board has written to the Home Secretary to seek a meeting and updating her on the most recent incidents.  Chief Executive, Gillian Merron (pictured above), has liaised with officials in the Department of Communities and Local Government over the action necessary to promote community cohesion, following the Minister’s meeting with CST.

The Board has sought to liaise with the London Jewish Forum to ensure that the Mayor’s office (which has oversight of the work of the Met Police) is ensuring that incidents are handled properly.
The Board is also seeking to work with Assembly members to press this case. We have continued to liaise, through the CST, with the police and prosecution service to ensure that all necessary action is taken to protect the community from anti-semitic attacks We have spoken with many of the retailers being targeted by anti-Israel protesters, to ensure kosher products remain on sale and neither customers nor shopworkers face intimidation.
 Meetings and conversations have also been held with interfaith colleagues to identify ways of working together to promote community cohesion. For example done by getting Muslim organisations to condemn anti-Semitism and intimidatory action explicitly.
The Archbishop has also done this. Meanwhile, the Board’s honorary officers and senior staff have maintained their high presence in the media with interviews and comment in the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and elsewhere, as well as supporting pro-Israel pro-peace rallies and events in Brighton and Manchester.

Areas of work

The law

Most in the community will share the Board of Deputies’ deep concern about the rising and sustained anti Semitism of the past six weeks, hence we have lobbied ministers, including requesting a meeting with the Home Secretary in which we will call for answers over the numbers of arrest and prosecutions relating to anti Semitic incidents. This is part of a lobbying strategy that has seen us reach out to politicians to espouse our concerns.

The media

The Board is working with the media to make it very clear how serious the issue of anti Semitism is, and this has borne fruit with many articles that demonstrate that the British press understand the scale of the issue. In addition we are meeting the BBC to discuss the seriousness of rising anti Semitism. It is, sadly, a big news story, and we want to make sure that its importance, and the sensitivity around reporting, is fully understood.

Fighting anti-Jewish initiatives

We are fighting cultural boycotts which have the effect of discriminating against Jews – a success was the Tricycle Theatre overturning their original decision not to stage the Jewish Film Festival. We simply won’t allow for the politicisation of British cultural life, as this will only lead to a sense that Jewish life is being curtailed as some sort of misguided attempt to  hold us to account over our relationship with Israel. The arts should be about freedom of artistic expression, not its curtailment based on faux foreign policies.

Working with other communities with a message of Zero tolerance to all racism

We are working with other faiths to get across a zero tolerance message of any racism: be it anti Semitism or Islamophobia.

To fight antisemitism effectively, we need allies outside the community. Here, the Board’s longstanding commitment to interfaith relations is bearing fruit, with strong condemnation of the recent rise in antisemitism from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The nature of the Israel-Gaza conflict makes it particularly important for leading Muslim organisations to speak out.  Hence we signed a statement with the Muslim Council of Britain which explicitly states that anti Semitism is to be condemned in the strongest form; and faith groups should encourage peace and respect between communities, with the accent on exporting peace initiatives not importing tensions from the Middle East.

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