David Cameron pledged more than £11m of additional funds to help secure Britain’s Jewish community in the wake of the atrocities in Paris and Copenhagen, writes Justin Cohen.
A total of £7m will be provided for security guards outside more than 100 Jewish private schools while a further £3million will pave the way for the same provision outside scores of synagogues. The prime minister also told a record-breaking 1,300 guests at the CST’s annual dinner that the Government would provide an extra £1.5million towards a state-of-the-art mission control centre with closed circuit television.
“At a time when once again the Jewish communities of Europe feel vulnerable and when anti-Semitism is at record levels here in Britain I will not stand by. I will not turn a blind eye to the threats that the community faces. If the Jewish community does not feel secure then our whole national fabric is diminished. It is a measure of the health of our democracy and of the vigour of our institutions that the Jewish community feels safe to live and flourish here.”
The CST have provided Government with details of the community’s security needs during meetings in recent weeks. Calls for additional funding also came from the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism.
Since 2010, the Government has provided £2million for security guards at 39 state schools but Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer campaigned for this to be replicated in private schools, including raising the matter at prime minister’s questions.
“As Mike Freer put it to me what if an attack happened at a private school? How would we feel if we knew we could have done more? That’s not a thought I am prepared to entertain.
“So today in the Budget, we have committed over £7 million of new money to fund guards for all Jewish private schools and colleges. So at every school – state or private, north or south – the government will play its part in protecting your children.” He added that the funds – which also aim to help two Jewish museums – would cover “this year – and every year – for as long as necessary”.
CST chair Gerald Ronson stressed the dinner was attended by friends from the Coalition and Opposition but said he had “never seen such a level of support” as the new pledges in a lifetime of fighting anti-Semitism.
“We will administer and supervise this funding, as we already do for state funded Jewish schools. We are honoured that you place your trust in CST to deliver this. But that trust also falls upon all of you with us here tonight. This money is for our community, but it is not core funding for CST. This means more work for CST, with more professional staff: and that share of the responsibility lies with our funders.” He set his sights on equipping all volunteers with stab and bullet proof vests.
— Justin Cohen (@CohenJust) March 18, 2015