By John Mann MP, Chairman, All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism
This week, colleagues and I released the report of our latest All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism.
Following weeks in which the fears and anxieties of the Jewish community were well-documented, the time has come for us to demonstrate the necessary leadership and to set out what we plan to do.
There are five key themes and accompanying recommendations in our report, which we are already working to implement.
There was an unacceptable rise in anti- Semitic incidents during July and August last year. This ranged from assaults and abuse to inappropriate methods of protest against Israel’s actions.
The overwhelming majority of those who we spoke to or who submitted evidence, outlined their concerns, fear, loneliness and insecurity following the summer’s and subsequent world events.
Ensuring protection from harm is a key factor in our report and we have set out recommendations that we hope, when implemented, will reassure the Jewish community that our policing and judicial authorities are employing best practices.
We have suggested improvements to police, the Crown Prosecution Service and judicial guidance, communications and other systems.
Specifically, we have made a number of recommendations to the police about their preparedness and pre-planning efforts around political protests.
In addition, given the continuing terrorist threat to Jewish communities both in Britain and across the globe, we have recommended additional funding for the security of synagogues across the UK.
It is not only physical security measures that are needed; we must also address our public debate. Too often in the summer months and since, leading figures in public life employed language that knowingly or not, featured anti- Semitic tropes.
In our report, we seek to explain where the lines of acceptable discourse have been crossed.
The trivialisation and relativisation of the Holocaust, accusations of dual loyalty and malign influence and the categorisation of Jews as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are all recurring themes that must be stopped.
We argue that a more sophisticated understanding of anti-Semitism is needed and better defined boundaries of discourse.
It is for public figures and institutions to set the tone of our national debate, and where they have been irresponsible, the Jewish community has suffered the results.
We need to ensure that going forward, ignorance is no excuse. Our words can be a force for bad, but also for good and the importance of interfaith dialogue is a central theme in our report.
We were told by a number of people we spoke to that the summer’s war had served to drive a wedge between the Jewish and, in particular, Muslim communities.
Given that there were increased reports to CST of south Asian, north African and Arab perpetrators of anti-Semitism during the summer, the importance of interfaith activity cannot be overstated. We have made recommendations for a national review of this work and an accompanying prioritisation of resources.
Another area in which resources need to be prioritised and improved is the fight against online hate. Social media can be a wonderful tool but, when abused, it can be very dangerous.
Too often, the reporting processes on social media platforms are cumbersome and slow.
We have made specific recommendations about police resourcing, guidance for prosecutors and the promotion of alternative reporting mechanisms.
Most importantly, we state that the potential for using prevention orders in relation to cyber hate should be explored.
This would be the equivalent of applying an ‘internet asbo’ on determined abusers. Finally, we have outlined how communication of existing achievements can be better publicised both at home and abroad.
Over nearly 10 years, we have been working to establish and improve national frameworks for combating anti-Semitism.
We have better Holocaust education, data collection systems, community partnerships, policing and security measures and other systems than many other countries in Europe, but we need to better explain what we have done.
Our fight against anti-Semitism will continue and I am determined that it will be non-Jews, like me, who will be leading the charge on a cross-party basis. It is our duty.