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Anti-Semitism - Question for Short Debate

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:41 pm on 13th September 2018.

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Photo of Lord Palmer of Childs Hill Lord Palmer of Childs Hill Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords) 1:41 pm, 13th September 2018

My thanks also go to the noble Lord, Lord Popat.

Anti-Semitism is not new but recently has achieved publicity beyond the Jewish media. On Monday and Tuesday I attended my synagogue to celebrate Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. There was a strong security regime in place, consisting of trained members of the community plus professionals from CST—the Community Security Trust. All wear protective vests. The synagogue has a gated security fence. Security is not paranoia but is part of providing security for Jewish communal life, be it at synagogue or school, in old age homes or in other buildings. There is a great fear of anti-Semitic attacks. I declare that I am on the Advisory Board of CST, which is inspirationally chaired by Gerald Ronson. I will give a couple of typical examples. Vandals targeted Urmston Jewish Cemetery in Manchester, shattering 30 headstones. Anti-Semitic graffiti was daubed on the Etz Chaim Synagogue in Leeds.

Can the Minister confirm that the Government will continue to contribute to funding this vital CST service, not just on an annual basis, and that banners at marches and demonstrations must be controlled to prohibit words of hate, such as the dreadful banner saying “Hitler was Right”? Can he confirm that the Government must prosecute with the full force of the law hate crimes against the Jewish community wherever it occurs, be in in the UK or indeed abroad: the desecration of cemeteries, graffiti on synagogues or other buildings, verbal abuse and denial of the Holocaust?

Anti-Semites must not be able to hide their hatred of Jews. The vile outpourings of anti-Semites on Facebook and Twitter and on other social media must be stopped, and if the service providers do not stop them they should be made to do so by statutory means. Service providers should suffer significant fines if they allow anti-Semitic vitriol to go unchecked. To allow expressions of anti-Semitism on social media, on our streets or in any other public place must be made legally unacceptable.