Home Secretary Theresa May MP said Britain must defend its Jews and eradicate anti-Semitism in the UK, writes Jack Mendel
Whilst speaking at a Board plenary meeting to commemorate the Paris hostage victims on 18 January, May echoed her horror at the attacks, as a ‘chilling reminder of anti-Semitism.’
She said “I never thought I’d see the day where Jews were fearful of remaining here in the UK.”
“We must all redouble our efforts to wipe out anti-Semitism. We cherish the contribution you make, not just in the past but today and every day.”
May highlighted the co-operation between community organisations and the police in ensuring Jews feel safe in the UK. She also pointed to the measures taken by the Government to counter the terrorist threat in Europe.
Eric Pickles, who is the secretary for Communities and Local Government attended as well, telling the audience that after the Paris attacks “I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be than shoulder to shoulder with the Jewish Community in the UK.”
He said “last summer’s rise in anti-Semitism was shameful”, touching upon the Tricycle Theatre boycott, and a number of other controversial incidents.
“Without Britain’s Jews, Britain wouldn’t be Britain,” stressing the contribution made by British Jews across a number of fields, including business, arts and culture and Interfaith relations.
He said that the Jewish Community feel close together but “look outwards”, and that is “worth holding on to.”
Both Cabinet Ministers referred to the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, which will be commemorated with National Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 Jan.
Pickles highlighted anti-Semitism in the UK as a ‘cancer’, and that it will keep coming back if it is not challenged. He said the “path to the gas chamber came in stuttering steps..
“Never let the smallest bit of anti-Semitism take root.”
Community figures and other representatives attended, in addition to Rabbi Mordechai Fhima of the Anshei Shalom French Synagogue, who led the prayer at the beginning of the plenary.
Representatives of CRIF (Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France) which is the French equivalent of the Board were unable to make the event due to the Eurostar disruption.
Photo credit : John Rifkin