More than 300% increase in antisemitic incidents in recent days, minister tells MPs

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Monday 17 May 2021 18:55
Robert Jenrick condemns antisemitic incidents.mp4

There has been a more than 300 per cent increase in antisemitic incidents reported in recent days, a cabinet minister has told MPs.

Robert Jenrick, the communities secretary, also denounced a series of attacks that took place over the weekend as “racist and extremely serious crimes”.

He told the Commons: “No-one could fail to be appalled by the disgraceful scenes of antisemitic abuse being directed at members of the Jewish community in the past week.

“In Chigwell, Rabbi Rafi Goodwin was hospitalised after being attacked outside his synagogue. In London, activists drove through Golders Green and Finchley, both areas with large Jewish populations, apparently shouting antisemitic abuse through a megaphone.

“These are intimidatory, racist and extremely serious crimes.”

He also had strong words for the police, saying he never expected to see on the streets of London people holding signs “apparently with impunity, saying ‘death to Jews’”.

He said that the home secretary Priti Patel would speak to police to ensure action can be taken as fast as possible in the future.

He also told MPs that police would undertake extra patrols in parts of London targeted this weekend.

“We must ensure that this is a country in which our Jewish friends and neighbours feel safe – and I’m sure the whole House will send a strong message today of support and reassurance to them,” he said.

The Community Security Trust had “reported to us this week a steep rise in antisemitic incidents, a 320 per cent increase in a week”, he said. But, he added: “That is likely to rise further as there’s always a delay in reporting.”

For Labour, shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said: “What we saw and heard on the footage of the streets of London yesterday was vile antisemitism and sickening, threatening misogyny.

“Those who engage in this appalling, terrible behaviour should feel the full force of the law.”

Both Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer have denounced an incident in which threats were apparently shouted from a convoy of vehicles driving through a Jewish community in London over the weekend.

Mr Jenrick confirmed that four arrests have been made in connection with that incident, in north London.

He told MPs: “A lot of young, British Jews are discovering for the first time that their friends don’t understand antisemitism, can’t recognise it and don’t care that they are spreading it.”

He added: “They are not responsible for the actions of a government thousands of miles away but are made to feel as if they are. Seeing their friends post social media content that glorifies Hamas, an illegal terrorist organisation – an organisation whose charter calls for every Jew in the world to be killed.”

He continued: “Every time the virus of antisemitism re-enters our society it masks itself as social justice, selling itself as speaking truth to power. This government is taking robust action to root it out.”