Government Pledges £72 Million for Safety of Jewish Communities in Britain

The announcement comes amid reports of record-high numbers of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK.
Government Pledges £72 Million for Safety of Jewish Communities in Britain
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks to students at a Jewish secondary school in north London on Oct. 16, 2023. (PA)
Evgenia Filimianova

Jewish community sites in the UK will receive £72 million in security package funding, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced.

In the single biggest financial commitment that any government has ever made to ensure the safety of the Jewish community in the UK, Mr. Sunak said he wants to tackle “record levels of anti-Semitism.”

Speaking at the annual Community Security Trust (CST) dinner on Wednesday, the prime minister condemned the “utterly sickening” rise in prejudice and racism.

The CST is a British charity that provides security and advice to the Jewish community in Britain. It will receive £54 million of new funding, or £18 million every year for the next four years.

This comes in addition to £18 million in financial backing, announced by the government in October 2023. The funding will be used to provide security guards at Jewish schools, synagogues, and Jewish areas across the country.

“When Jewish children are hiding their school uniforms, Jewish students are facing harassment on campuses, the birth certificates of Jewish children are being defaced, and Jewish families feel unable to enter the centre of our capital city at the weekend, the whole fabric of our nation is under threat,” Mr. Sunak said.

A CST report on anti-Semitic incidents in the UK last year recorded 4,103 cases, the highest total ever reported to the charity in a single calendar year. The figure included cases of hate and damage to Jewish businesses, synagogues, schools, and cemeteries.

Sixty-six percent of the cases occurred on or after Oct. 7, when the Hamas terrorist group carried out a brutal attack on Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostages.

Israel has responded with a deadly military campaign, which drove 80 percent of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million Palestinians from their homes and left a quarter of the population starving, according to U.N. reports.

Triggered by the deadliest violence in the history of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, a coalition of UK pro-Palestine and anti-war campaigners have organised marches and demonstrations every week since the onset of the conflict.

One of the latest marches, calling for an immediate ceasefire, took place on Feb. 17, and was the first protest to go near the Israeli Embassy in west London since Oct. 9 last year.

“Yes, you can march and protest with passion; you can demand the protection of civilian life, but no, you cannot call for Jihad; there is no ‘context’ in which its acceptable to beam anti-Semitic tropes onto Big Ben, and there’s no cause you can use to justify the support of proscribed terrorist groups, like Hamas,” Mr. Sunak said at the CST dinner.

He also mentioned the impact of security concerns on the work of MPs.

Government minister Mike Freer, who holds pro-Israel views and serves a predominantly Jewish constituency of Finchley and Golders Green, recently resigned over death threats from Islamic extremist groups and an arson attack on his constituency office.
Lawmakers shouldn’t be forced out of public service because of fears for their safety, Mr. Sunak said. A £31 million package to fund extra security for members of Parliament, announced by the Home Office, is set to address safety issues involving elected politicians.

Speaking to police leaders on the issue of MPs’ safety on Wednesday, Mr. Sunak said that the government needs to protect “democratic rule” from being replaced by “mob rule.”

Labour MP Zarah Sultana said that “demonisation” of the pro-Palestinian protesters must be brought to a halt.

“Those overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations are being depicted as a violent ’mob'. That’s a very worrying undemocratic line of argument,” the MP said in a post on social media platform X.

It risks “stoking anti-Muslim hate” and “justifying more restrictions on our democratic rights,” Ms. Sultana said.

Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell said that peaceful demonstrations that call for a ceasefire are something to be proud of, as he warned against attacks and abuse against the protesters.

Speaking about permanent ceasefire, Mr. Sunak said that the UK government won’t stand for anything other than the return of captured Israeli hostages and the removal of Hamas from Gaza.

PA Media contributed to this report.
Evgenia Filimianova is a UK-based journalist covering a wide range of national stories, with a particular interest in UK politics, parliamentary proceedings and socioeconomic issues.
Related Topics