Boris Johnson meets communal leaders amid huge spike in antisemitism

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Boris Johnson meets communal leaders amid huge spike in antisemitism

Prime Minister offers reassurance of security to Jewish leaders following turbulent week

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and the Downing Street Chief of Staff, Dan Rosenfield.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and the Downing Street Chief of Staff, Dan Rosenfield.

Boris Johnson has met with Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and leaders of the main Jewish communal organisations at Downing Street on Thursday to provide reassurance and support over developments in the UK around the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

During the meeting, the prime minister pledged to continue to support the community in the face of rising antisemitism attacks, such as the car convoy incident in St John’s Wood last weekend.

He also used the opportunity to thank the community for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

Alongside the Chief Rabbi, who attended at Number 10 physically, representatives from the Jewish Leadership Council, the Community Security Trust, Union of Hebrew Congregations, Board of Deputies, Campaign Against Antisemitism and the Government’s independent adviser on antisemitism also attended virtually.

During the meeting the prime minister said: “Whatever the situation is in the Middle East, there is no excuse for the importing of prejudice to the streets of our country. In any form. The recent signs of antisemitism- such as the assault of Rabbi Goodwin, the disgusting parade of vehicles chanting hate speech through the streets of London, is intolerable and I take deep, deep exception.

“I condemn antisemitism in all its forms and I stand totally with our Jewish community. This is something that has always been the way, and often goes unsaid, but I feel it needs to be heard clearly. There is no place for antisemitism in the United Kingdom. We must call it out, and be continuously vigilant and emphatic.”

Jewish community representatives attended the meeting virtually

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis expressed his thanks to the PM for convening the meeting and reiterated how much of a global challenge the Covid-19 pandemic has been. He said that he was “worried about the increase in antisemitism in the United Kingdom” and that “what we are seeing right now is unprecedented”. He added: “The community is determined to stop it in its tracks and are encouraged and grateful for the Government’s help.”

The prime minister pledged the Government’s support to helping all those who are victims of antisemitism, and to working to strengthen interfaith dialogue and the ties between the Government and all the religious communities of the UK.

Board President Marie van der Zyl is understood to have personally thanked the government for their support during the current turbulent period for the community.

She also raised the issue of full proscription of the Hamas terror organisation in the UK, with only the Islamic group’s military wing covered under present legislation.

Other issues to be discussed included the need for help to rebuild inter-faith relations, which have been dented as a result of the current conflict in the Middle East.

There was also discussion on the protection for the community under the Online Harms legislation.

During the meeting the PM also heaped praise on the work of the CST in protecting the community.

It is understood that Johnson also stressed his concern over the safety of Jewish children in schools, with escalating tensions over the Middle East.

Discussions also involved used Police and Crime Commissioners across the UK to protect the safety of Jewish people in smaller communities away from London.

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