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Rishi Sunak pledges extra £54m for security of Jewish communities amid record levels of antisemitism

todayFebruary 29, 2024 3

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Rishi Sunak pledges extra £54m for security of Jewish communities amid record levels of antisemitism

A total of £72m is being allocated to Jewish schools, synagogues and other community centres to help them beef up security, Rishi Sunak has announced.

The prime minister said the money would go towards providing security guards, CCTV and alarm systems at Jewish community sites in a bid to tackle record levels of antisemitism – which has risen since the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel.

Of the total, £54m is new money and will go to the Community Security Trust (CST) – a charity protecting Jewish communities in the UK – to provide security measures until 2028.

This is in addition to £18m previously allocated to the charity until 2025.

Part of that – £3m – was made available in October last year to offer additional support to more than 480 Jewish community locations, including schools and synagogues enabling nearly 200 schools and more than 250 synagogues to hire more security guards and increase protection.

A record 4,103 antisemitic incidents were reported to CST in the UK in 2023, the highest total ever in a single calendar year and an increase of 147% compared with 2022.

The figures spiked after the start of the Israel-Hamas conflict with 1,330 incidents being reported to CST in October 2023, more than the three previous highest monthly totals combined.

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‘An explosion of hatred’

In a speech at the charity’s annual dinner in London, Mr Sunak condemned the record levels of antisemitism as “utterly sickening”.

He added that the rise in racist attacks meant that “the whole fabric of our nation is under threat”.

The prime minister said: “Don’t let anyone try and tell you this is just a reaction to the response of the Israeli government as unacceptable as that would be. The highest weekly total of antisemitic incidents came before Israel responded.

“It is hatred pure and simple.”

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Mr Sunak not only denounced the “assault on the Jewish people” but attacks on MPs, namely Conservative Mike Freer, who stepped down as a minister over fears for his personal safety.

Mr Freer represented the largely Jewish constituency of Finchley and Golders Green but faced a series of death threats and when his office was subjected to an arson attack in December, he decided to quit.

On the funding, Home Secretary James Cleverly said it would give those in the Jewish communities “certainty and confidence they will be kept safer for the foreseeable future”.

He added: “We are also working with the police to ensure that hate crime and expressions of support for the terrorist organisation Hamas are met with the full force of the law.”

This comes as the government revealed a £31m package with the aim of protecting MPs and to avoid “mob rule” amid disruptive pro-Palestine protests, which included demonstrators surrounding the home of Tory backbencher Tobias Ellwood earlier this month.

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Protesters descend on MP’s home

Tackling anti-Muslim hatred

A Home Office spokesperson said the government also condemned the recent rise in reported anti-Muslim hatred.

They added: “We expect the police to fully investigate all hate crimes and work with the CPS to make sure the cowards who commit these appalling offences feel the full force of the law.”

An additional £4.9m was made available in October for protective security at mosques and Muslim faith schools, bringing the total funding for 2023-24 to £29.4m, which the government confirmed will also be maintained in 2024-25.

Written by: Newsroom

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