This week we mark Holocaust Memorial Day. As a day of remembrance, this is an opportunity to pause and reflect on the suffering of millions in the past. But it also has a warning for our present and lessons for the future.
That’s because this year we will be coming together against the backdrop of an unacceptable rise in antisemitism in our country. Since the October 7 attacks, a torrent of anti-Jewish hatred and abuse has been unleashed across the world, including — sadly — in the UK.
We have all seen appalling examples of antisemitism. Brazen displays of jubilation at Hamas’s monstrous attacks. Hostage posters cruelly torn down. I want to be very clear: this is not acceptable. This government will never tolerate antisemitism. We will always take every possible measure to keep all the communities of this country safe.
That’s why last week we took the decision to proscribe Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terrorist organisation. Our ban has now come into force, and an organisation that sought to radicalise and spread poison across our country is no longer allowed to operate here in the United Kingdom.
I know that the activities of this group have long been a cause for concern for British Jews. As David Rose reveals in this week’s JC, Hizb ut-Tahrir has been the source of outspoken support for the so-called resistance to Israel — that is to say, Hamas terrorists.
The action we have taken will degrade Hizb ut-Tahrir’s operations in the UK. Proscription is a powerful tool. It means anyone who belongs to or invites or expresses support for the organisation in question is committing a crime. The penalties for conviction of proscription offences can be a maximum of 14 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.
This is also about sending a message, both here in the UK and across the world, that we will fight terrorism today, tomorrow and always.
Because just as those who are filled with hate descend to new-found depths of depravity, our conviction and our belief in the values we cherish get stronger.
There is no getting away from the fact that antisemitism has surged since October. The police data bears it out; your experiences as British Jews show these are not dry statistics but lived trauma.
Your government has been clear right from the beginning that we will do what is necessary to keep you and your families safe.
We already had an excellent relationship with the Community Security Trust, which does such outstanding work in this space. That meant we were able to move swiftly to increase the funding available for protective measures around synagogues, schools and other sites.
We are working around the clock with both operational and community partners to understand, mitigate and disrupt threats.
But our posture is one of constant vigilance. As you would expect, we keep our approach under review to ensure it is robust and effective.
I hate that such steps are necessary here, in the country I love, a country that is home to so many Jewish people who have contributed so much. But if the British Jewish community is threatened, we will do everything in our power to protect you.
At its core my job is to keep people safe and that will always be my number one priority.
Last weekend, I attended a rally against antisemitism in Manchester.
It was humbling, inspiring and moving to see people coming together in defiance, saying with one voice that hatred will not win; that we will stick together, even in the darkest times; and that, in the end, tolerance and freedom will prevail.
I know this has been an immensely difficult time for Jewish people here and all over the world.
For anyone feeling frightened or isolated, you should know you are not alone.
The government and our partners will do everything in our power to protect you.
This week, as we remember the Holocaust, we also reaffirm our enduring commitment to that solemn prayer and promise: never again.
Never again means now.
Tom Tugendhat is the security minister