Jewish security groups and government envoys have begun pushing for the inclusion of antisemitism in the national Prevent strategy, Jewish News can reveal.
It follows a call made by Lord Pickles, the government’s special envoy for post-Holocaust issues, for Jew hatred to be included in the country’s main terrorism-prevention programme.
Speaking in the House of Lords, he said: “Given that antisemitism is often an open gateway to violent extremism, does the minister think that now is an appropriate time for the government to incorporate antisemitism into their Prevent strategy?”
Pickles said he intervened after he was “persuaded” by a private briefing note from the Community Security Trust (CST).
Mark Gardner, the CST’s communications director, said the organisation was pleased that the matter was now being taken seriously. “CST’s argument is that antisemitism should be considered one of the early warning signs by which potential future terrorists can be identified,” he said in this week’s Jewish News.
“We believe our argument is increasingly regarded as a pretty obvious statement of fact by government, police and the security services.”
Pickles told Jewish News: “From the beginning, antisemitism has been a really good early indicator of extremism… Antisemitic conspiracies peddled by the far-right and far-left are a regular part of the ideological package that counter-terrorism officers encounter.”
He said: “It’s not like antisemitism is being ignored by those engaged in preventing terrorism. There are some early interventions around it, but it’s a bit half-in, half-out. We need to go a little bit further now and fully integrate it. Now is the right time.” He added: “This is no silver bullet, but if it helps protect the Jewish community then it’s obviously worth doing.”
The call was backed by Danny Stone, chief executive of the Antisemitism Policy Trust, who said: “Antisemitism should be clearly identified as an indicator of violent extremism by the government and relevant authorities. We support Lord Pickles and the CST’s call for this to be looked at carefully.”
Jewish peer Lord Carlile, the government’s former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, had been scheduled to review the Prevent strategy but withdraw in December after a legal challenge over perceived bias. He said: “Prevent applies to the risk of terrorist violence by a person. If an antisemite was a credible risk of violence against Jews, Prevent could be used.”
However, Liam Duffy, a counter-terrorism consultant who wrote a Civitas report on Prevent, said there must be a reason to believe that an antisemite was a threat to Jews beyond just their views.
“If someone held antisemitic views in isolation – as opposed to antisemitism caused by an Islamist ideology, for example – and there was reason to believe they were heading towards committing an act of violence, then that would be sufficient to warrant a Prevent intervention.
“However, there are few definite ‘thresholds’ which would trigger an intervention. One comment alone, for instance about Jews controlling the world, might not be enough, but with more context it might be.”