Mark Gardner

The Jewish community’s strength is real and growing

The Chief Executive of the Community Security Trust reflects on a difficult year for Israel and the Jewish diaspora


The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak chairs an Israel Policing Roundtable in 10 Downing Street, attended by then Secretary of State for the Home Department Suella Braverman, Mark Gardener Chief Executive of CST, and senior police officers (Credit: Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)

January 03, 2024 16:14

I find it hard to reflect on anything that happened in 2023 before October 7.

Since October 7, there is always another task. I’ve just written my stategy paper for the next few years. When I finish writing this article I’ll nervously check how many kazillions of emails and WhatsApps have come in since 7am today.

This is how my strategy document begins, word for word: “We need to be clear that the war did not cause antisemitism and anti-Israel hatred.

“Rather, it blew the lid off a pressure cooker of pre-existing hatreds, all of which constantly evolve in accordance with the dynamics of millennia of Jew-hatred, worsened by contemporary socio-political factors, such as social media and identity politics for example.”

There are many moments and images that stick in my head from the last three months.

Standing alongside our CST chair, the incomparable Gerald Ronson, and we addressed the first class of 175 people (out of over 1,100) to come forward and join CST in this time of crisis.

Fighting back my tears as I stood in the middle of the Mall, alongside about 20 CST volunteers and staff, whilst the last of the demonstrators drifted past us through the dark and the drizzle, leaving our community’s biggest protest against antisemitism in many a generation.

Every Friday afternoon since the war began I have hugged my colleagues here at CST, thanking them for another week of tireless effort, with more work to come through the weekend and into the week ahead.

 Above all, when I realised that our strength is real. The strength we have built over decades. Our strength at CST, but also our increasing strength as a community. I sense that people are moving from their initial paralysed fears to an energising righteous anger at what we are going through. It is bringing a steely determination to stand up and be counted.

There is more to come. CST will not let you down and you won’t let us down either.

 Mark Gardner is the Chief Executive of the Community Security Trust

January 03, 2024 16:14

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