Home Secretary Amber Rudd writes for the JC: Light can triumph over darkness

December 23, 2016 12:56

This Saturday, families and friends will gather to welcome the beginning of Chanukah. 

The lighting of the first candle on the menorah is a time to remember a story about how perseverance wins over oppression, hope wins over despair and light wins over darkness.

This eight-day celebration is also an opportunity for us to recognise the important contribution that the Jewish community has made to all areas of life in Britain — from the arts to architecture, from medicine to philanthropy.

The Jewish community is a model of how to integrate successfully into a country.

But I know there have been some challenges over the last year. There were 557 antisemitic incidents across the UK in the first half of 2016.

Earlier this month, a man was found guilty of the racially-aggravated harassment of Labour MP Luciana Berger after sending antisemitic rants.

Far right and extreme right wing groups have become increasingly sophisticated in the use of social media for promotion and recruitment.

Let me be clear: antisemitism and hatred have absolutely no place in a Britain that works for everyone.

That is why last week I announced that I am taking action to ban the neo-Nazi group National Action. They are a racist, antisemitic and homophobic organisation which glorifies violence and promotes a vile ideology.

I will not stand for it.

That’s why I published our hate crime action plan earlier this year, and it’s why we are providing £13.4 million over 2016-2017 to protect Jewish shuls and schools.

That’s why last week the Prime Minister announced that Britain will be adopting a formal definition of antisemitism. That means there will be one definition of antisemitism — in essence, language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews — and anyone guilty of that will be called out on it.

And that’s why I recently met with the Board of Deputies to discuss antisemitism and why I will continue to listen to the Jewish community and to act on any concerns.

I am also determined to stop antisemitism before it starts. The Government is funding an extension of the Anne Frank Trust’s Schools Programme, which uses Anne’s life and diary to empower young people with the knowledge, skills and confidence to challenge prejudice and discrimination.

We must also encourage people to report antisemitism and know it will be taken seriously. That is why we have helped send guidance on antisemitism in football to all professional clubs and worked to educate young people in the Charedi community about what constitutes hate crime and how to report it.

This Government is taking action and we will not allow hate to flourish.

Together, we will beat hate.

And Chanukah is a festival of hope that reminds us all that light can triumph over darkness.

Last week I was delighted to be able to mark it with members of Britain’s vibrant Jewish community at a Board of Deputies celebration.

For those observing Chanukah, the celebrations will now begin in earnest. I hope you enjoy a relaxing and fun holiday with your loved ones.

And as I sit down for my meal on Christmas Eve I will think of you all. Happy Chanucah.



December 23, 2016 12:56

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