‘The Jewish community is determined to stand up and be counted’

We have every right to lead a Jewish life in the UK, said the head of CST


The Jewish community in the UK has shown that it is willing to stand up and be counted, according to Mark Gardner, the head of CST. (pictured) participants at the March Against Antisemitism in November

Fear within the Jewish community since October 7 has been replaced with “an absolute determination to stand up and be counted”, according to the head of the UK’s main Jewish security body.

Giving a communal update on Wednesday evening, Mark Gardner, chief executive of the Community Security Trust said: “For all the fear of the first month or so, there is now an absolute determination to stand up and be counted. Our community saw the need to stand up for itself. That’s exactly what it has done.”

Describing the multiple Jewish-led rallies in London, Manchester, Leeds and other cities as “unprecedented demonstrations of communal determination”, Gardner said: “From day one of this war, our ethos and our message to you has been: ‘Be Jewish. We have every right to be Jews and to lead our way of life.’ We will keep working with all of you to achieve that goal.”

Speaking a couple of days after several pupils from Hasmonean Boys School were assaulted at Belsize Park Station in what the police are treating as a hate crime, Gardner said that Since October 7, antisemitic incidents had been “running at record levels”.

CST has dealt with 4,500 complaints of antisemitism in the past nine months alone. Some of them had been violent, but the majority had consisted of verbal abuse and threatening behaviour, with Jewish students being “at the sharpest end of things”, he said.

The worst cases of antisemitism were during the first week of the war, “which proves that antisemitism is not a response to what Israel does or what it’s alleged to do. Instead, antisemites use the Middle East as an excuse to act out their Jew hatred. It’s Jewish death and vulnerability that excites them the most.”

Saying that he shared some of the Jewish community’s concerns about the police’s handling of antisemitism at anti-Israel protests, Gardner said that the policing at these demonstrations was “much better now than it was in October and November. People are being arrested for things [and] that previously would never have occurred. In previous wars, demonstrations had widespread violence and support for terrorism by Hamas and Hezbollah. None of that now happens.”

He added that the police “do a lot of things very well, which, by definition, you don’t see. There have been terrorism cases which came from the police [to CST] or from CST, which were reported to the police. For months, the police were stationed in our 24/7 control centre, mainly over Shabbat.”

Gardner was part of a wider communal update, which included reports from the Jewish Leadership Council, the Board of Deputies, the Union of Jewish Students, Bicom and UJIA.

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