The Home Secretary has vowed to crack down on Islamist antisemites after a damning review of the Government’s counter-radicalisation strategy highlighted deep failures in protecting Britain’s Jewish community.
The report by William Shawcross found evidence that the Prevent programme was failing to adequately tackle support for Hamas and Hezbollah in Britain and has allowed Jew-hating terrorists to slip through its net.
It warned that support for the terror groups which are committed to the destruction of Israel “by those in senior political or community roles, is totally unacceptable”.
The report said: “In order for the proscription to be truly effective, those who fundraise for Hamas or break the law in support of the group’s activities must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
“There is no reason why those who support Hamas should be treated any differently to those who support Islamic State, National Action, or other proscribed organisations.”
It added: “The government should pay greater attention to the pernicious impact of Hamas’s support network in the UK.”
Responding to the landmark review of the Government’s counter-radicalisation programme, Home Secretary Suella Braverman told the JC:
“Antisemitism is a scourge in our society that must be rooted out. I am fully committed to tackling this despicable behaviour and Prevent, with its renewed focus, will play a fundamental part in taking on these extremist attitudes and crimes.
“At the same time groups that advocate support for proscribed organisations such as Hamas and Hezbollah will no longer be tolerated and, where appropriate, those who do will face the full force of our anti-terrorism law.”
Ms Braverman said that Prevent needed to “better disrupt radicalisers who spread antisemitic views or are supportive of those that harass and violently target the Jewish community”.
Mr Shawcross’ report states:
Terrorists involved with Prevent who went on to commit serious crimes but had never been escalated to Channel – the mechanism for referring the most urgent and worrying cases – include Malik Faisal Akram, the Blackburn man shot by the FBI last year after taking hostages at a Texas synagogue.
The fear of being accused of Islamophobia is likely hampering several aspects of Prevent, including referrals to Channel, training for local public sector staff, and the Government’s counter-extremism research.
Some organisations that received Government funding to fight extremism actually promoted antisemitism and antisemitic figures.
Virulent antisemitism unites both Islamist and right-wing extremists referred to Prevent’s intensive Channel scheme, which is meant to deter and divert those deemed to pose a high risk.
Mr Shawcross, appointed by the Government to assess the Prevent strategy, says in the report that he was “alarmed at the prevalence of extreme antisemitism” among those who were referred to Channel.
Examples he saw in cases he examined included “individuals expressing the intent to kill, assault or harm Jewish people or a particular Jewish individual, threats to burn, desecrate or blow up a synagogue… claiming religious or political justification for the murder of Jewish people… and adherence to extreme antisemitic conspiracies.”
He also saw “examples of individuals who made an association of British Jews with the actions of the Israeli Government, and the justification of harm towards individuals expressed as ‘Zionists’ or ‘baby killers’”.
Antisemitism dominates Islamist ideology, the report says: “The Islamist worldview is supremacist, Islamists have encouraged hatred of Jews.” Listing antisemitic terrorist attacks in Europe, the report says that “Domestically, British authorities have disrupted early-stage terrorist plots targeting Jewish areas, including in Birmingham and Manchester.”
Mr Shawcross is scathing about Prevent’s failure to tackle “the support network around Hamas”.
In her written response, Ms Braverman says she agrees with Mr Shawcross that “Prevent has defined the extreme right-wing too broadly… Meanwhile it has given too narrow a scope to Islamist extremism, which has enabled some extremist groups to operate unchecked. I will rid Prevent of any cultural timidity so that it meets every threat head on and does more to identify and challenge non-violent extremism.”
She said she accepted all of Mr Shawcross’s 34 recommendations, and would strive to implement them. These include a pledge to improve Channel so “there is no disparity in the thresholds applied to Islamist or extreme right-wing ideologies”.
It was “vital to understand the role of antisemitism in extremist ideology,” Ms Braverman said. “Antisemitism, like other forms of hatred aimed at communities, is a destructive and pernicious trend which the government… is working to reduce. We will devote more analytical resource to improving our understanding of ideologies that spread antisemitic narratives and take direct action to address this.”
She promised to “increase our pool of intervention providers that specialise in tackling antisemitism explaining that their role is to deconstruct and dismantle extremist narratives and ideologies”.
Disrupting antisemitism would also mean “confronting UK extremists supportive of terrorist movements which target Jewish communities (such as Hamas and Hezbollah) and addressing the anti-Jewish component of Islamist and extreme right-wing ideology and groups”, Ms Braverman said.
Launching the report in the Commons, Ms Braverman said: “In too many aspects of British life, hatred directed at Jewish people has been tolerated, normalised, and accepted.
“Racism that would rightly be called out and enforced against were it directed at any other minority, is too often ignored when directed at Jews.
“The review makes clear that this double standard must change.”
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