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Robert Jenrick expresses concern over ‘disgusting' Covid-19 conspiracy theories

Exclusive: Communities Secretary spoke to the JC during a visit to Golders Green

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Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick has spoken of his concern over what he said were “frankly disgusting tropes spreading conspiracy theories about Covid and vaccinations – linking it to Jews.”

Speaking to the JC during a visit to Golders Green on Wednesday, Mr Jenrick said the conspiracy theories, which have become popular among elements of the anti-lockdown movement in the UK and abroad, represented “the resurgence once again of age old antisemitism,  but with very serious consequences.”

The Tory minister said the government recognised the danger posed by so-called anti-vaxx campaigners such as Kate Shemirani, who has been exposed by the JC  over her support for a theory placing prominent Jews at the centre of a corrupt global regime.

Mr Jenrick, who visited the Daniels bakery and also met Highgate Synagogue's Rabbi Liss, said: “I am concerned there have been some frankly disgusting tropes circulating online,  especially spreading conspiracy theories about Covid and vaccinations, linking it to the Jews.

“We need to stamp that out. It is the resurgence once again of age old antisemitism – but with very serious consequences.

“Not just for the Jewish community, but for everybody in terms of not following the rules or taking the virus seriously. And in time of not taking the vaccines when we get them.

“We are working with the social media companies to make sure they take action to stamp out these tropes and ensure they are not propagated online.”

The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government also issued a warning to  those in the Jewish community who have chosen to ignore the government’s latest measures to tackle the rise once again of coronavirus.

Asked about concern over the virus rates in areas such as Hertsmere, he said: ”The vast majority have been doing their best to obey their rules, but in the Jewish community as in other communities a small minority of people have gone too far.

“As we are see the number of cases rising this is the moment we need to do all we can to get rid of the virus once again and we have to expect people to follow the rules.

“It is not just about ourselves, this is about protecting other people. We have to take personal responsibly to ensure we are not contributing to the rise of the virus.

Our children have just gone back to school, we want people to be able to work, and to protect people’s jobs.”

He added: “The risk is real.

“We see what is happening in other countries, including Israel, where they are back in lockdown. We do not want to be in the position where we are facing a blanket national lockdown.”

Mr Jenrick, whose is married to an Israeli and whose children have been brought up Jewish, said that the forthcoming High Holy Days would be “different” but added, “we all have to make sure we follow the guidance to protect our loved ones and the wider community.”

He said: “When we all had our Seders on Zoom over Passover, we had hoped that we wouldn’t have to repeat that.”

 

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