Home Secretary Theresa May pledges £13.4m for community security at CST dinner

By Marcus Dysch, March 2, 2016
Home Secretary Theresa May at the CST dinner with Gerald Ronson and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

Home Secretary Theresa May at the CST dinner with Gerald Ronson and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis

The government has committed to provide £13.4 million for security measures in the Jewish community in the coming year, Theresa May has announced.

The Home Secretary said the money would go towards security guards and further protection steps at independent and state Jewish schools, nurseries, synagogues and community sites.

Mrs May revealed the plan at the Community Security Trust’s annual dinner in central London on Wednesday evening. The charity will be responsible for managing the money.

The figure is an increase of around £2m on the amount unveiled last year by David Cameron — which itself represented £3m of additional funding.

CST chief executive David Delew said the financial commitment was “deeply appreciated”.

“We wish that it were not necessary, but the current situation dictates otherwise,” he said.

Speaking at the CST dinner for the first time in three years, Mrs May told the 1,000 guests that countering extremism was "the challenge of a generation".

She said: “No one wants the school where they send their child to need security guards, or have their place of worship be fitted with security alarms and blast-resistant glass.

“But until that changes, the government is clear — we will stand by the Jewish community.”
She said extremism was the biggest challenge facing the country, but reassured CST donors: “There is a lot that government can do and we are doing.”

Mrs May praised CST’s efforts, saying it was “leading the way in showing how a community can safeguard itself.

“If we are to defeat extremism, we must all work together. We must expose the extremists’ lies, and we must not give them an inch in causing tension and division.”

The dinner was attended by dozens of MPs and senior police officers including Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan Howe and the leaders of Greater Manchester Police and British Transport Police.
Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson and leading London mayor candidates Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith were also present.

CST chairman Gerald Ronson thanked Mrs May for her work to combat antisemitism, but warned British Jews against being complacent.

He said that after last year’s terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, “our community was more scared than I can ever remember. But the threat has not changed. If anything, it is getting worse”.

Addressing Mrs May directly, Mr Ronson said: “You give us moral support, opposing antisemitism in its own right, but also correctly placing it within the wider attack upon British and western values. And you back it up with a financial commitment to be spent on securing communities across the UK which is very much appreciated.”

CST’s budget had increased by around £1m this year to £7.4m, Mr Ronson said, because of the increased threat the community faced.

He praised “allies” from across the religious and political spectrum but added: “Some of us have gone from street-fighting, to sitting here in this beautiful room. It’s very easy to think that everything is wonderful, but the problems have come a very long way also.

“I wanted antisemitism to die in my lifetime, but it didn’t. It’s all still there, for us, for our children and our grandchildren.

“They used to say that Jews are rich, that we run the banks, the media and the politicians, that we cause wars and spread hatred. Now, they say it about Zionists instead. Some clever people call this the new antisemitism.
To me it’s just the old Jew-hatred in modern packaging.”

Mr Ronson said rising antisemitism was an indication of a bigger problem within Britain and that Jews “are the canary in the coal-mine. But this is one canary that has no intention of ending up dead in its cage”.

Last updated: 12:02pm, March 3 2016