Amber Rudd pledges government's support to British Jews at Board of Deputies' Chanucah reception

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis stole the show by urging communities to harness the spirit of Chanucah and Christmas throughout the year


“Terrible people” want to do “terrible things” to British Jews, Amber Rudd has warned as she outlined the government’s intention to tackle antisemitism head on.

The Home Secretary told the Board of Deputies’ annual parliamentary Chanucah reception she believed the Jewish community’s contribution to the country had been “immense” and said the government wanted the whole of the UK to benefit from it.

But she warned: “The Jewish community is a model of integration but despite that there are terrible people who wish to do terrible things to the community.”

Ms Rudd told Monday’s event that “perseverance” would win, and described her hopes for “more straightforward” prosecutions of antisemites using the government’s newly-adopted definition of Jew-hate.

She spoke at the reception in front of dozens of MPs and peers, including Emily Thornberry, Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary; Tzipi Hotovely, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

Ms Thornberry said Chanucah was one of her favourite festivals, but added: “The events of the last year have had enormous ramifications for our communities and there has been a rise in racism and particularly antisemitism.

“We need to have faith in one another and respect for one another.”

She was heckled by Conservative MPs, with one Tory saying in response: “What about in your own party?”

John McDonnell, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, attended the event, as did Dawn Butler, the party’s Shadow Minister for Minority Ethnic Communities.

Rabbi Mirvis’s address was warmly received by the 150 attendees when he urged communities to harness the spirit of both Chanucah and Christmas throughout the year.

He said: “Let us dedicate ourselves to ensure that the spirit of Chanucah stays with us for the entire year. Never underestimate the power we have to ensure that light prevails over darkness.”

Guest speaker Robert Peston, ITV political editor, who said he was a non-practising Jew, described his own experiences of antisemitism.

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