By Eric Moonman
The Evening Standard reminds us that the immediate focus on the grim events in Paris over the past few weeks has had the effect of obscuring the extent of normal violent crime – the kind entirely unrelated to terrorism.
The escalating violence in British society touches everyone.
Of course, the vulnerable are mostly affected (one in three children have suffered violent attacks) and more elderly people are now confronted in their homes than in recent years.
But equally worrying is that all religious minorities have been targets.
Further, gang clashes and the use of knives and even guns have increased despite genuine efforts by police, local councils and the relevant authorities to close in on the gang leaderships.
It is understandable that as Jews we should concentrate on the pressures and the incidents directed at our people. And it is correct that the CST provides security on all occasions when Jews assemble at Jewish functions or religious services.
One cannot praise too highly the commitment of the hundreds of volunteers involved over the years.
But quite apart from whatever security measures governments may introduce I believe that it would be in our interests, as Jews, for our leadership to establish a plan of action for security. It would demand the support and active involvement of all faiths so as to provide a broader area of influence and an agenda, as well as including those who are not at presently identified with any religion.
This would also provoke greater interest in parliament rather than many of the existing discussion groups.
The game changer would be to integrate research and intelligence much more closely on those who confront us. The Anti-Defamation league (ADL in the United States) has long shown it is far more effective to bring together existing research and data speedily to the activists in the field, such as the advocacy and the PR monitoring groups.
The events in Paris have shown that laws are not enough to remove discrimination and unfair treatment. What is required is not only a policy that will help to change the social climate, but also anti-racist education. The principle aim of contemporary society should be to root out discrimination to make a significant difference at all levels.
A number of local initiatives here are already in place providing support for the Frontline campaign which targets making our streets and schools safer.
An outreach campaign against racism would also promote practical and meaningful links with Muslim communities, particularly the young.
For the Jewish community to implement such initiatives demands we create much broader campaigns opposing racism, than hitherto. It would also have the powerful influence of identifying our concern for other faiths and groups under strain.
There is one other striking issue, namely to raise the morale amongst British Jews, many of whom have become distressed by the events in Paris. This has been exacerbated by the media speculation of the risks of living here inspired by so called opinion polls (“Jews are now at a tipping point” “whether Jews will stay or leave.” Sufficient to say that any self-respecting academic or researcher would never have compiled such a bunch of prejudicial questions.
Jews are here to stay. To make our very living safe for our families and our religion we need to work ever more closely with other faiths and, as British citizens, we need to challenge any discrimination and violence whenever and wherever it comes from.
Eric Moonman, Author of many books, including The Violent Society and Learning to Live in the Violent Society.