Prime Minister David Cameron at the CST Dinner

3 Mar 2011 by CST

363CST-Cameron-Dinner - Copy

Prime Minister David Cameron was the guest of honour at last night's CST Dinner, where an audience of 1,100 people, including cabinet ministers, shadow cabinet ministers, MPs, Chief Constables and other senior police officers heard the Prime Minister voice his support for CST and the Jewish community in the fight against antisemitism and extremism.

The full text of the Prime Minister's speech can be read here; below are some of the key excerpts.

And it’s great to be able to show my support again for Community Security Trust and the brilliant work you do. On behalf of everyone here let me thank Richard Benson and all the staff and volunteers who work so hard together with the police and the wider community to protect the Jewish people and to make this charity as successful as it is today.

I believe CST is a model for all our communities in Britain. So much of what you do epitomises what I’m getting at when I talk about the Big Society. You don’t say “just leave it to the government, it’s not my responsibility", uou say “I want to play my part; I want to do my bit.”

Whether it’s standing up for your community which was the theme of last year’s dinner. Or social action, the theme of this year’s dinner, I find it incredibly impressive that, day in and day out not just a handful of people but three thousand CST volunteers work with the police, local and national government, and other religious and minority communities to fight hate crime and increase the safety and security of our communities.

And security, of course, is why we are all here tonight. As we approach the festival of Purim I’m particularly mindful of the sickening way that the Jewish people have been targeted for centuries.

Antisemitism is abhorrent to me. There is never any excuse for it. And we must confront it together with the extremism from which it grows.

[...]

I want to be frank with you. It shames our country that our Jewish schools should need protection. But they do.

And it’s fantastic that CST provides it. But just as your community does so much to raise money so we should help too.

So I’m proud that Michael Gove has announced up to £2 million on security for schools this year and there will be more to come for all the years it’s needed in our country.

But tonight I want to make an argument about how to fight extremism. First I want to be clear about its causes and where we should put our focus. For years the Jewish people have had to contend with the threat from far right extremists.

And that threat remains very real.

But today one of the most immediate threats to the security of the Jewish people comes from the existence of a political ideology which I call Islamist extremism.

We must be clear what we mean by this term and distinguish it from Islam.

Islam is a religion observed peacefully and devoutly by over a billion people.

Islamist extremism is a warped extremist ideology that tries to set our societies against each other by radicalising young Muslims all across the world.

At its furthest end are those who back terrorism to promote their ultimate goal: an entire Islamist realm, governed by an interpretation of Sharia.

Move along the spectrum and you find people who reject violence, but who accept various parts of the extremist world view, including real hostility towards Western democracy and liberal values.

[...]

Instead of ignoring this extremism we have to confront it in all its forms and wherever it is found.

That means banning preachers of hate from coming to our country proscribing organisations that incite terrorism and stopping extremist groups from getting an audience on our university campuses.

I know there is a real concern in the community about what is going on inside Britain's universities, about an insidious shift from legitimate debate to illegitimate intimidation.

So let me be very clear about where the boundary lies.

It is absolutely right that in Britain's universities, students and faculty should be able to criticise Israel, just as they can criticise any country, or any government, or any politician.

But it is absolutely wrong that in any of our universities there should be an environment where students are scared to express their Judaism or their Zionism freely.

It is absolutely wrong that universities should allow speakers to spread messages of anti-Semitism and hate.

And it is absolutely wrong for any university authorities to duck their responsibilities to ensure a clear line between free speech which is a fundamental right, and intimidation, which is fundamentally wrong.

[...]

Some have argued that it’s right to engage with organisations that tolerate extremist views to coax young men who have both extremist views and want violence. That’s nonsense.

It would be like turning to an extremist movement like the BNP to fight a violent organisation like Combat 18.

We don’t do that for fascists. And we shouldn’t do it for other extremists. But seizing this opportunity is about more than confronting extremism, it’s also about building a positive identity of what it means to be living in this country and enabling people to feel that this national identity is also compatible with their religious or cultural identity.

Our Jewish communities do this brilliantly.

They understand that as well as being part of a community with a common faith they are also part of a wider community – that of our country.

The Prophet Jeremiah wrote to the Jewish community in Babylonia saying:

“Seek the welfare of the City to which I have exiled you, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its prosperity shall you prosper.”

And the Talmudic rabbis declared it a religious principle that Jews should observe the law of the land as binding.

The point is that it’s possible – and necessary - to have more than one loyalty in life.

To be a proud Jew, a committed Zionist and a loyal British citizen.

And to realise there is no contradiction between them.

You can love this country.

Take pride in its history.

Be moved by its values.

Even cry with its football fans every four years, and still be a proud Jew.

[...]

Last year Dayan Ehrentreu presented me with the original copy of the Lexicon written by my great, great grandfather Emile Levita a German-Jewish banker who came here to this country 150 years ago.

I was incredibly moved by his story. It made me appreciate all the more what the Jewish people have brought to our country. And it humbles me to stand among you and count myself as a friend.

With me you have a Prime Minister whose belief in Israel is indestructible. And you have a Prime Minister who wants to build a strong and productive relationship with Israel. And I have instructed our ambassador to make one of his top priorities the building of a new partnership between the high tech economies of Israel and Britain.

I will always be a strong defender of the Jewish people. I will always be an advocate for the State of Israel.

And while I believe this is a country in which the Jewish community can live in confidence I will never rest while the Jewish community in Britain feels under threat.

A Jewish friend asked me the other day will it be safe for my children and grandchildren to live here?

The answer to that question will always be “yes”.

Because Britain's Jewish community is strong, and proud, and flourishing.

And because CST will help keep it safe, working closely with a Government and police service that will do whatever it takes to protect it.

Let us resolve tonight that the next generation won’t even have to ask the question at all but just focus on building this great country as a home for your great community – together.

Update: the speech given at last night's dinner by CST Chairman Gerald Ronson is now available online here.


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“The CST is an incredible organisation, which every day is  out there protecting Jewish communities and their institutions across Britain...I along with my party, will continue to give our wholehearted support to CST.”

Nick Clegg MP
Former Deputy Prime Minister