Sajid Javid MP: Govt will expand 'Lessons from Auschwitz' funding to help stamp out anti-Semitism
Regardless of our role, or party allegiance, our fight against the “oldest hatred” must never lessen. We all have a duty to stamp out antisemitism, says Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid.
Listening to the moving testimony of survivors, ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day was a powerful reminder of the importance of this.
I’m proud that my Ministry heads up the cross-Government working group on antisemitism. Our relationship with the Jewish community has been built on the solid work of the group which ensures that we are alive to any issues and community concerns and can respond quickly.
Sadly, this work has never been more important.
Antisemitism is on the rise in the UK. There were a record number of antisemtic incidents (767) recorded in the first six months of last year - the highest ever six-month total - and while the yearly figures to be published this week by the Community Security Trust show the number of incidents to have lessened over the last six months, the trend is still hugely worrying.
And this is the reason the UK became the first country to formally adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism. One single definition of antisemitism that ensures anyone found guilty, will not have recourse to confusion over meaning.
This is just one of the many things this Government is doing to ensure we have a zero tolerance approach to this abhorrent form of bigotry.
The Parliamentary Committee against Antisemitism is “centred on the principle that Jews in the UK should not be left to fight antisemitism alone.”
Members of the community have come to us with concerns and we have acted. We’re strengthening security at Jewish faith schools, synagogues and communal buildings through a £13.4 million fund.
We’re also making sure that this country’s strong legislation against racially and religiously motivated crime is doing its job. We’re encouraging the Ultra Orthodox Jewish community to report hate crime and are making sure that victims are fully supported in court.
To this end, we’ve published a guide for victims of hate crime, including antisemitism, with the Crown Prosecution Service and the Community Security Trust.
And with research showing that three per cent of the British population holds hard-line antisemitic views, and a further 30 per cent believe in one or more antisemitic tropes, we’re supporting the Institute of Jewish Policy Research’s attitudinal study into antisemitism.
Crimes must always be reported, and the law enforced, but we also want to create an environment that prevents hate crime from happening in the first place.
Holocaust education remains one of the most powerful tools we have to fight bigotry.
That’s why the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government – together with the Department for Education – will fund an expansion of the highly successful Lessons from Auschwitz programme to tackle antisemitism, prejudice and intolerance on university campuses.
The Holocaust Educational Trust has been hugely successful in teaching school children about where hatred, intolerance and misinformation can lead. Now together with the Union of Jewish Students, a new programme will take 200 university student leaders from across the country visiting the former Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. Upon their return, they will take part in a seminar which will deal explicitly with campus issues and how to identify and tackle antisemitism.
This complements the Union of Jewish Students’ Bridges not Boycotts project, which gives university students a chance engage in responsible dialogue with people with different views.
In schools, too, we’re tackling intolerance and ignorance by funding projects including those run by the Anne Frank Trust which does such great work in using the power of Anne Frank’s life and her family’s tragedy to challenge prejudice.
Young people who took part in this programme rated their understanding of the Holocaust, hatred, discrimination, inequality and injustice as just five out of 10 at the start, increasing to nine out of 10 afterwards.
So there’s a lot of vital work under way to protect and support British Jewish communities. To make sure justice is done. To educate the next generation.
There’s no single antidote to antisemitism but perhaps the most powerful is remembrance - a duty to never forget where antisemitism can lead.
With Holocaust Memorial Day and last week’s remembrance events just behind us, it’s vital that we never lose our focus.
Antisemitism must be understood for what it is – an attack on the identity of people who live, contribute and are valued in our society. There can be no excuses.