House of Commons debate on antisemitism
10 December 2014
The House of Commons held a Westminster Hall debate on antisemitism yesterday at the request of John Mann MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, who has worked tirelessly to lead political efforts to combat antisemitism in the United Kingdom.
The debate can be watched in full below, or there is a transcript here.
Yesterdays parliamentary debate highlighted the strides taken in combating antisemitism by Government and parliamentarians in recent years, as well as reflecting on the antisemitic upsurge experienced during the summer and assessing the continued challenges in addressing antisemitism in the future.
One theme that ran throughout the debate was the key role that CST plays in monitoring levels of antisemitism in the UK, and the effect that CSTs work has in informing decision makers on antisemitism and the wider arena of hate crime, both in the UK and abroad. We are grateful to all those MPs who expressed support for CST in yesterday's debate.
John Mann MP used CSTs summer figures and analysis as the bedrock of his detailed introduction before praising our work in glowing terms when stating that:
... the basis of recording by the CST is without question the world best. It is renowned across the world for being so.
Mann continued by raising other important issues, including MPs who use irresponsible language; ongoing concerns at the rise of antisemitism on Social Media platforms; and the successes in addressing recommendations of the 2006 All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism (pdf).
Reflecting the cross party concern at current levels of antisemitism in the UK, further statements were made by other MPs, many of whom quoted CST figures and praised our actions.
Conservative MP Guto Bebb found it unacceptable that the threat level to the Jewish community in the UK and Europe has meant that schools and synagogues need to be protected. Jim Shannon MP of the Democratic Unionist Party, raised MOPACs new Hate Crime Reduction Strategy - that CST was consulted on - which revealed that July 2014 was the highest recorded month of faith-hate crime in London, 95% of which was antisemitic. Labour MP and shadow Communities Minister Lyn Brown encouraged all those who experienced or witnessed antisemitic and other racist online incidents, to follow CSTs guidance on combating and reporting antisemitism online.
In providing the Governments response Lib Dem MP and Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Communities and Local Government, Stephen Williams, recognised the summers increase in antisemitism and outlined Government efforts in tackling this issue. Strongly stating that there is never an excuse for antisemitism, and that it is wrong, wrong, wrong, he continued by identifying and condemning sources of contemporary antisemitism:
It is shocking and offensive that British Jews continue to be singled out for antisemitic abuse. Whether from the far left or the far right an abhorrent antisemitic streak goes through both extremes of British politics or from misguided individuals who happen to be Muslim, who pervert the true meaning of Islam when they attack British Jews, all such attacks should be condemned.
He continued by mentioning a summer recess meeting between himself and CST, as well as a joint letter to local authorities sent by CST Chief Executive David Delew and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles.
While we at CST are grateful for the support we receive from Government and parliamentarians, we will not be complacent regarding the work that still needs to be done to reduce antisemitism. July and August saw record levels of antisemitic incidents in the UK; combating antisemitism on social media is a growing challenge; parts of continental Europe are becoming increasingly hostile for some Jewish communities; and as Guto Bebb recalled, Jewish schools and synagogues still need to be protected. We will continue to do all we can to tackle these problems, working with our friends and partners in Westminster and beyond.