The Home Secretary has said that the police must show a “zero tolerance” approach towards antisemitism on the streets of Britain in the wake of the horrific terrorist atrocities in Israel.
Speaking to the JC at the offices of the Community Security Trust (CST) in north London, Suella Braverman also made clear that Hamas killers were “terrorists”, not “militants” — contradicting the BBC’s terminology — and spoke of the security benefits that would come from blacklisting Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), promising that the government will keep the decision “under review”.
Legislation to ban boycotts of Israel would be pushed through, she added, and attacked Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s record of supporting Jeremy Corbyn’s failed bid for power.
“Israel is a beacon of democracy in the Middle East,” she said. “Defending Israel is not part of the culture wars. It is symbolic of defending humanity.”
The British Jewish community has been in a state of high alert since Hamas terrorists went on a rampage of unspeakable violence on Shabbat.
Extra security measures have been set up at schools and synagogues, while the community has been left shaken by large pro-Palestinian rallies, which included support for Hamas.
There has been deep anger at the BBC’s refusal to describe Hamas as “terrorists” even as they behead children, mutilate the bodies of young women and parade corpses.
The BBC labels Al Qaeda and the Islamic State — including the Manchester Arena bomber and the London Bridge attackers — as terrorists.
Hamas is a proscribed organisation. Anyone who expresses support for it can expect to be dealt with (Photo: Getty Images)
“It’s regrettable that parts of our society do not describe this for what it is,” Braverman said. “Hamas is a proscribed terrorist organisation. The government has been unequivocal about it. This is terrorism.”
Speaking to the JC wearing a lapel pin showing the Israeli flag intertwined with the Union Jack, she recalled that she had visited Sderot in 2015 with Conservative Friends of Israel.
“The enormity of the barbarity that we’re seeing by Hamas terrorists towards Israel is unforgivable and sickening,” she said.
“The UK government is proud to stand as a friend of Israel through this horrific attack. This is terrorism, it’s brutality, it’s pure evil. That’s why I uphold Israel’s right to defend its borders and its security.”
The Home Secretary, who visited the CST offices just two days after the attacks, reassured the community that police would prevent a repeat of 2021, when hostilities in Gaza spilled over into hate convoys in north London.
“I’ve been liaising very closely with police partners in order to make it clear that they must respond robustly,” said Braverman.
“A zero-tolerance approach must be taken to instances of antisemitism. I’m thinking here of 2021. I do think there was a failure of a response then.
“Hate chants like ‘from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’, which to my mind mean only one thing — ethnic cleansing of Jews — went totally unpoliced. There were convoys of vehicles with people urging the rape of Jewish girls and murder of Jewish women, and again a blind eye was turned.”
Suella Braverman and Jake Wallis Simons at the CST (Photo: Joshua Bratt)
She added: “I’ve been horrified by people who should know better who responded to scenes of massacre, scenes of abduction, scenes of pure brutality by putting on a T-shirt emblazoned by the Palestinian flag.
“That is standing with the murderers. That is glorifying terrorism. That is on the wrong side of history. It’s not just idiotic, it’s heartless and it’s inhumane.”
Tehran, the principal funder of Hamas, has drawn up a kill list of prominent British Jews, the JC has revealed, and MI5 has foiled 15 IRGC kidnap and murder plots in the last 18 months.
But demands from the Jewish community for the IRGC, Iran’s covert overseas militia, to be blacklisted in Britain, have been reportedly blocked by the Foreign Secretary.
“Proscription brings with it many advantages legally,” the Home Secretary said.
“Demonstrating support, being associated with, or financing proscribed organisations are criminal offences. That needs to be taken into account when any proscription decision is being made. Proscription is constantly under review.”
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (Photo: Alamy)
She emphasised that British Jews were safe on her watch. “I was very pleased to increase the funding for CST this year,” she said. “They are critical in defending the Jewish community from the acts of hostility I have described.
“My message to the Jewish community is to report all incidents of hate crime, antisemitism, harassment, any other criminal behaviour, not just to the CST but also to the police.
“Only if the police understand the nature of the hostility towards the Jewish community right now will they be able to respond effectively.”
She also echoed the sentiments of communities secretary Michael Gove, reported in the JC last week, that legislation that criminalises boycotts of Israel is a priority for the government, which plans to approve it by the end of the year.
“It prevents that chilling effect which is pernicious. I’m afraid it still exists in many pockets of our society whereby an anti-Israel view, an antisemitic view in some cases, has taken hold of a public organisation. That is totally wrong and is an illegitimate use of public funding.
“I support it and voted for it in the commons. It is something that is very important and couldn’t come soon enough.
Destruction caused by Hamas terrorists (Photo: Flash90)
”Turning to Labour, Braverman insisted that Sir Keir Starmer could not be trusted to protect the Jewish community. “I’m afraid actions speak louder than words,” she said. “Keir Starmer stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Jeremy Corbyn only a few years ago and campaigned for the British people to make him prime minister.
“Thank goodness he failed. Thank goodness the Conservatives prevented Jeremy Corbyn from becoming Prime Minister. Who knows what sort of response the UK government would have taken under prime minister Jeremy Corbyn?
“Those actions, I’m afraid, speak more loudly than warm words today.”