CST represents all Jews

By Gerald M Ronson, April 29, 2011

My fellow trustees and I are proud to have led the Community Security Trust to its current position as one of our community's foremost charities, representing it on issues of antisemitism, extremism, policing and security. Nevertheless, JC columnist, Geoffrey Alderman - in the issue of April 15 - provocatively questions CST's right to call itself representative.

The Board of Deputies is, in many ways, the only democratically elected communal body: but numerous other Jewish charities and organisations specialise in their fields of work, and accordingly represent us on these issues. Indeed, the same dynamic applies outside the Jewish community, with groups from the NSPCC to the RSPCA representing their own areas of expertise to media, government and beyond.

In context, therefore, CST is no different to any other specialist charity or organisation that has risen to prominence through sheer ability and effort.

Even so, Geoffrey Alderman acknowledged that the defence director of the Board is a CST employee; and there is no more fundamental partner for CST's work than the Board.

Of course, actions speak far louder than words and everything that CST has achieved since attaining charitable status in 1994 is down to its hard work, focus, expertise and an unswerving commitment to work in partnership with every element of our community. It could not be any other way; after all, terrorists, antisemites and criminals do not distinguish one Jew from another.

We have as great a communal reach as any organisation

CST works across every geographical, political, social and religious divide; and CST's staff, financial donors and 3,000 security volunteers --- the backbone of our organisation --- join us from throughout the length and breadth of our Jewish community.

Our staff, donors and volunteers are of paramount importance, both for CST to do everything that it does, and to answer the essence of Geoffrey Alderman's criticism, because their range and numbers exemplify the manner in which CST is an integral part of British Jewry. We simply could not do our work were this not the case.

CST's work covers physical security, political research and helping victims of antisemitism, all of which rely upon real working partnerships within and beyond our community.

Jewish organisations, schools, synagogues, old-age homes, welfare centres, community centres and communal events have CST secure their activities because they know that there is a need for security and they know that they can rely upon CST to deliver where and when it counts.

This includes our providing millions of pounds-worth of security upgrades to many hundreds of communal premises in recent years. Similarly, police forces and specialist units draw upon CST's partnership at communal events, shabbatot and chagim.

We receive well over 1,000 reports each year from members of our community, most of whom live in large and vibrant centres of Jewish life, but others are literally the only Jew in their village. Many of them have details of antisemitic incidents, or extremist activities, and all are treated with total respect and confidentiality.

Partnering with Maccabi GB, our Streetwise programme reaches approximately 10,000 Jewish children annually. On campus, we partner the Union of Jewish Students, producing joint booklets on coping with antisemitism, assisting victims of antisemitism and extremism, and helping make representations to campus authorities.

Then there is the range of communal organisations with whom we are in constant communication and regular working partnership on all of our issues. Foremost are the Board of Deputies and regional representative councils but there are many others, working within and beyond the community. Every relationship is based upon CST's expertise and reliability; as demonstrated beyond all doubt by the scrutiny our facts, figures and analyses have been regularly subjected to by independent MPs, Home Office experts, Police criminologists, European Union officials, and journalists.

CST is not a talking shop, but everything that we do, and everything that we have achieved, is the result of meaningful consultation and partnership. The sheer scale of our work shows that we have as great a communal reach as any other communal organisation. It is representation in the real sense of the word; reflecting our community in all of its diversity, hopes and fears.

My colleagues and I are repeatedly asked by Jewish communities around the world how they can replicate CST's example. Here in Britain, other communities, government and police regularly ask us the same question.

I am proud of what we have built; and what we have achieved --- in partnership with our community.

Gerald M. Ronson is the chairman of the Community Security Trust

Last updated: 1:46pm, April 29 2011