The Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, has praised the work of the Abraham Fund in Israel and in a sombre speech to an audience of the charity’s UK fundraisers, pledged to do more to integrate communities in Britain in order to avoid future tragedies and terrorist outrages.
Speaking to more than 100 people at the Reform Club in central London, Mr Javid paid “heartfelt thanks” to the men and women of the emergency services who had dealt with the attacks in Manchester, London, the Grenfell Tower fire — and the imam who had saved the life of the attacker at Finsbury Park Mosque.
He said Britain had seen “a neighbourhood refusing to be divided, a city refusing to be cowed” at Finsbury Park. “The worst of Britain attacked Finsbury Park. The best of Britain responded”.
The Secretary of State said there had been the same spirit “in the response to the attacks in Westminster, London Bridge and Manchester”, and during Ramadan when synagogues hosted Iftars for their Muslim neighbours.
Mr Javid added: “We see it every day in countless small acts of kindness across the diverse, strong communities that make up so much of Britain. It’s all a reminder that Britain is one of the world’s most successful multicultural societies”.
He told his audience that where there was no integration, British society needed to “choose to be the agents of change, to say “no, this isn’t good enough. We can take positive steps, real action to break down barriers and build up stronger communities”.
He said that the integration strategy which the government would publish later in the year drew inspiration from what the Abraham Fund was doing in Israel.
“For nearly 30 years, you’ve shown the world that even in the most difficult of circumstances, the most fractured of societies it is possible to bring together people who would otherwise be strangers. You’re not just saying “why can’t we all just get along”, you’re out there making a real difference on the ground”.
Mr Javid expressed particular admiration for the Abraham Fund’s work in “promoting the value of academia as a shared space, a joint platform for a Jewish-Arab society, at at a time when some British student groups are calling for boycotts and the silencing of voices they disagree with”.
The co-chairs of the Abraham Fund in Israel, Orni Petruschka and Basha’er Fayum-Jayussi, gave an overview of the work of the charity and its many programmes which affect and improve the lives of Jews and Arabs alike.