• Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer

    Jewish News Editor Richard Ferrer

    A day we can all be proud of

On Sunday, this newspaper was proud to be media partner for one of the most timely and important events our community has witnessed in many years. An estimated 4,500 people rallied outside the Royal Courts of Justice to demand zero tolerance of anti-Semitism.

This remarkable turnout reflects the strength of feeling and concern about anti-Semitism and attacks on Jewish people and property in the wake of the Gaza conflict – underlined by the latest disturbing statistics published today by the CST.

Immense credit goes to Campaign Against Antisemitism – a grassroots body set up just one month ago – which managed to put on an event of such size, scope and nationwide impact. The event also underlined the suspicion across the community that the Board of Deputies has broadly failed in its duty to stand up loudly, proudly and swiftly for Anglo-Jewry in the face of terrifying levels of anti-Semitism.

Indeed, Board president Vivian Wineman and senior vice president Laura Marks were greeted with jeers rather than cheers when they took to the podium to address the crowd.

But, as former Board chief executive Jon Benjamin told this newspaper, there’s no reason why individuals and grassroots groups shouldn’t take the lead, “get involved and make things happen at a time when we need all hands to the deck.”

So, what will you do to help?

  • When will justice be served?

Steven Sotloff was murdered by Islamic State this week in perhaps the most brutal way imaginable. The 31-year-old’s death – filmed and released on video on Tuesday, after similar footage of the killing of fellow US journalist James Foley – has again shocked the world.

Steven was a journalist who knew the risks of reporting from countries where others feared to tread. An American and Israeli citizen – who had lived in Israel and studied at the IDC in Herzliya – he filed reports from Egypt, Libya and Syria, detailing the political and social changes taking place in those countries.

He knew he was reporting from perilous places, but it was something he wanted to do. His friends have paid tribute to a kind and caring man, who was “brave, imaginative and sweet”.

Last week, we watched his mother, Shirley, make an emotional appeal to IS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, asking him not to kill her son. No parent should have to plead with another over the life of an innocent man. And no mother should have to watch her innocent child die in such terrible circumstances.

The government needs to clarify what it will do to counter the dangers of IS that is targeting innocent civilians across the Middle East. It is, unfortunately, now only a matter of time before this pure evil is exported further afield.