Theresa May

Theresa May writes for the JC: 'I’ll keep you safe'

"The fact that antisemitism is on the rise again in mainland Europe should sicken us all; the fact it is on the rise here in Britain should shame us all."

December 15, 2016 15:34

As Prime Minister, I want to speak very directly to every Jewish family in the UK, to assure you of my personal determination to do everything possible to keep you safe and to rid this scourge of hatred from the soul of our country.

I know fighting against the divisive prejudice and extremist ideology that lies at the heart of antisemitism is part of the good that government can do. As I have said before, without its Jews, Britain would not be Britain; just as Britain would not be Britain without its Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Christians and people of other faiths too.

So the first step in defeating antisemitism is to define it clearly, to remove any doubt about what is unacceptable, so that no one can plead ignorance or hide behind any kind of excuse.

That is why the announcement I made on Monday is so important. Thanks to the work of Sir Eric Pickles as my Post-Holocaust Issues Envoy, Britain has led the way in establishing an international definition of antisemitism, through the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Just last week we were at the forefront of trying to ensure that definition was adopted across the continent at the Summit of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, with 56 countries in favour and only Russia opposed.

This week, thanks to the work of the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid, this Conservative government is now taking a ground-breaking step by adopting this definition here in Britain.

Through this definition we will call out anyone guilty of any language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews — and we will actively encourage the use of this definition by the police, the legal profession, universities and other public bodies.

I want to be very clear about what this means, because it goes to the heart of the lessons identified by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism.

Its report showed a rise in antisemitism in 2014 linked to growing criticism of the actions of the Israeli government.

We have to break these two issues apart. Through this new definition we can be unequivocal that criticising the government of Israel can never be an excuse for hatred against the Jewish people — any more than criticising the British government can be an excuse for hatred against the British people.

Put simply, there can be no excuses for any kind of hatred towards the Jewish people. Full stop.

But defeating antisemitism requires more than defining it. It means recording it and punishing those responsible for it, it means acting to keep Jewish people safe and it means educating future generations to fight hatred and prejudice in all its forms. This Conservative government is committed to doing all three.

As Home Secretary I required all police forces to record religious hate crimes separately, by faith. I made sure we kept extremism, including the sort that peddles antisemitic vitriol, out of our country.

That is why I said no to comedians like Dieudonné coming to Britain. It is why I stopped Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and Pastor Terry Jones coming too, because Islamophobia comes from the same wellspring of hatred.

It is why I kicked out Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada as well. And it is why I brought together internet companies and government to tear down the poisonous propaganda that infects minds online.

I was also pleased to commit over £13 million of funding at the Community Security Trust dinner earlier this year to support the security of Jewish faith schools, synagogues and communal buildings, and I will continue to ensure you have the resources you need to protect the community at all times.

But the ultimate way of defeating antisemitism is to create an environment that prevents it happening in the first place.

So I am proud to be continuing the work to create a National Memorial to the Holocaust next to Parliament, together with an accompanying educational centre, which will include the first-hand testimony of Britain’s Holocaust survivors.

The location of this memorial and its educational centre will send a powerful message about our values as a country. Together we will stand up for the British values of tolerance and respect for others that are epitomised by the mother of all Parliaments. Together, we will educate every generation to fight hatred and prejudice in all its forms and we will defend the hard-fought British liberty of freedom of religion or belief.

Together, we will keep Jewish people in our country safe and defeat the scourge of antisemitism by standing up for our values and our way of life — today, and for every generation to come.

December 15, 2016 15:34

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