Britain’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd pledged to continue government funding for security at Jewish schools and communal institutions Wednesday,promising to protect the Jewish community from anti-Semitism amid a sharp increase in anti-Semitic incidents recorded in the UK.
“We are doing what we can to confine anti-Semitism to the history books,” Rudd told attendees at the annual fund-raising dinner of the Community Security Trust, or CST, in central London Wednesday. “If you feel threatened we will listen to you, and if you are victimized we will defend you.”
Rudd said her office would provide £13.4 million (NIS 60 million) for security measures in the Jewish community in the coming year. The money, she said, would go towards security guards and protection at independent and state Jewish schools, kindergartens, synagogues and community sites.
The same sum was pledged to protect the Jewish community in 2016, a slight increase from £11.5 million (NIS 52 million) promised in 2015 by then-prime minister David Cameron.
“However friendly and professional security guards are, I’m sure you would all prefer to go to your local synagogue or drop your child at school without being greeted by one, and this is a future that we are all working towards,” Rudd said at the dinner.
Lloyd Dorfman, the CST’s deputy chairman, said Britain had seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitic attacks over the last eight months, with over 100 per month, a number rarely reached in the years prior.
“In the 10 years prior to 2016, there were only ever six separate months when the number of anti-Semitic incidents exceeded 100 in the month,” he said.
“By comparison, we recently completed eight consecutive months with over 100 incidents in each month. As the process of leaving the EU unfolds, we must all be vigilant in guarding against attacks on faith, ethnic and national minorities,” he added.
The CST released a report last month noting that anti-Semitism in the UK reached “unprecedented” levels in 2016, after a rise of 36 percent in the number of incidents.
Some 1,309 incidents were reported in 2016 – the highest on record — compared to 960 incidents in 2015 and 1,182 the year before, when Israel launched military action against terror groups in the Gaza Strip, provoking a strong backlash against Jewish communities across the world, something the CST called a “trigger event.”
CST chief executive David Delew said last month: “While Jewish life in this country remains overwhelmingly positive, this heightened level of anti-Semitism is deeply worrying and it appears to be getting worse… Some people clearly feel more confident to express their anti-Semitism publicly than they did in the past.”
At the event Wednesday, Delew thanked the Home Secretary and the government “for their strong efforts to help combat terrorism and anti-Semitism, epitomized by the continued funding for security guards at Jewish schools, but also shown in a range of other measures, including the adoption and promotion of the IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] definition of anti-Semitism.”
Rudd paid tribute Wednesday to Sir Eric Pickles, a former minister and who had campaigned for Britain to adopt the working definition which is designed to make it harder to evade repercussions for discriminatory or prejudiced behavior because of a lack of clarity or differing opinions on what constitutes anti-Semitism.
In December, Downing Street said the intention was to “ensure that culprits will not be able to get away with being anti-Semitic because the term is ill-defined, or because different organizations or bodies have different interpretations of it,” according to a statement.
The IHRA definition reads: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Rudd on Wednesday echoed the remarks issued by Downing Street, saying Britain adopted the definition “so that culprits won’t be able to get away with being anti-Semitic because the term is ill-defined or because different organizations or bodies have different interpretations of it.”
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