Saturday, October 7th, was a day of horror. Not just for those slaughtered and abducted by Hamas terrorists. Not just for Israel, or for the Jewish communities spread around the world. But for us, for Britain, and for the whole Labour movement. This is a moment that calls for moral clarity. There should be no doubt, in this time of grief and fear, that the Labour stands in solidarity with Israel and condemns these appalling attacks in the fiercest possible terms. What happened was a massacre: reprehensible and indiscriminate. Torturing innocent civilians. There can — not now, not ever — be any justification for terrorism. Nor can there be any doubts that Israel has a right to defend itself and to rescue the hostages.
At this dark hour, we stand not just by Israel, but by Britain’s Jewish communities. We know that for the community this is not simply a news event in the Middle East. That with so many loved ones living, studying or visiting Israel, this is terrifyingly close. We have spoken to many of our closest Jewish friends and colleagues of the shock they and their families felt arriving at synagogues yesterday for the holiday, insulated from the news by Shabbat, only to learn of the horror from their rabbis. And we have spoken to them too, of their fear as family and friends are under rocket fire. This is wrong and we are with you in solidarity — now and in the days ahead.
Here in Britain, we are appalled at the footage and reports of celebratory cars and gatherings. We condemn these actions utterly. Cheering on terrorism is vile and repugnant. Hamas is a proscribed terrorist organisation in the United Kingdom. We will not tolerate that British Jews should be made to feel unsafe in the streets. This is why we welcome the reassurance patrols undertaken by the Metropolitan Police. Jewish communities in every part of the country also need to know they have the support to feel safe and protected.
We understand the government, like those of France and Germany, is taking steps to increase security at Jewish sites across the United Kingdom. We are waiting for the details but we want action taken immediately. Labour is calling for a zero-tolerance approach to any intimidation and harassment directed towards Jewish communities here in Britain. Policing must now surge. Security is the meaning of solidarity.
It is intolerable that British Jews should ever feel unsafe in their synagogues. In the past, when conflicts in the Middle East have seen a spike in antisemitic hate crimes, we feel that our country has fallen short. There is no time to waste in bringing these measures in. Every time that a Jew takes off his kippah, out of fear — it is Britain that is failing. Antisemitism is a scourge. There should be no place for it in Britain, the Labour movement or around the world. It tramples on our deepest values and betrays our citizens in every way: as loved-ones, friends, colleagues and of course Jews. It is a disgrace to Britain, when Jews, or any other minority, live in fear.
There should be no space permitted to those who wish to use this moment to further antisemitic agendas either on the internet or on the streets. We oppose them utterly. We stand ready to push back against them. As our leader Sir Keir Starmer has made clear: there will be zero tolerance for antisemitism within the Labour Party.
We call on the government to recognise that in the days ahead Israelis and Jewish communities worldwide will be at risk from terrorism, violence and intimidation. There is no time to waste in working with our allies and partners across Europe and around the world to ensure that Jewish communities around the world are safe and secure. Labour is calling on the government to ensure it is doing all it can.
There is no time to waste. There should never be any dithering or time wasting around the security of Britain’s Jewish communities. This is why Labour is calling for a zero-tolerance approach to any intimidation or harassment and a surge in policing. As we brace for what will be difficult times in the Middle East our message is simple — not only do we stand with Israel and but we stand with you as British Jews.
David Lammy is Shadow Foreign Secretary and Yvette Cooper is Shadow Home Secretary