Jews caught between ‘anti-extremism and secularisation’, JLC tells government

Jews caught between ‘anti-extremism and secularisation’, JLC tells government

Community leaders respond to consultation on integration by saying some British Jews feel the idea of 'British values' is "hostile"

JLC delegation meeting with the Prime Minister in September 2017
JLC delegation meeting with the Prime Minister in September 2017

Jewish representatives have told the government that Jews feel caught between “anti-extremism and secularisation” and think the idea of ‘British values’ is “hostile”.

The comments were made in a Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) response to a Government consultation on integration, prompted by a 2016 review by Dame Louise Casey, which highlighted the negative effects of “ethnic concentrations”.

Asked about a Government Green Paper proposing actions to combat “divisiveness,” the JLC said religious Jews felt that, in the battle against extremism, religious practice and traditional views were often seen “unfavourably”.

In its submission, the group said: “Jews feel as if they have been caught between the fight against extremism and the secularisation it has promoted. This is far from ideal and we feel much work is needed to address this.”

The JLC added that the term ‘British Values’ also needed to be “unpicked,” saying: “Rightly or wrongly, for many, the term has negative connotations. Many instinctively know what is meant by it but for many, it is a hostile term. Promoting why it is something which defends everyone is crucial to detoxifying the term.”

Dame Louise Casey

Ofsted inspectors assessing schools’ promotion of ‘British values’ of tolerance and respect for others have highlighted problems at religious schools, whose leaderships refuse to teach pupils about different sexualities or gender identities, a clash acknowledged by Ofsted in its most recent annual report.

“The effective functioning of British society depends on some fundamental shared values as well as a culture of mutual tolerance and respect,” wrote Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman.

“We have found an increasing number of conservative religious schools where the legal requirements that set the expectations for shared values and tolerance clash with community expectations. The schools are, therefore, deliberately choosing not to meet these standards.”

She said this tension was “leading to the creation of illegal schools that avoid teaching the unifying messages,” which she said was “of great concern”.

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