As a society, we are responsible for tackling racism, which is unacceptable in any form.
As a society, we are responsible for tackling racism, which is unacceptable in any form. Community leaders have a special responsibility to address it.
Over the last few years, we have seen a particular rise in pernicious anti-Semitism. The first half of 2016, for example, saw an 11% rise in reported anti-Semitic incidents compared with the same period during the previous year. Between 2013-14 and 2014-15, anti-Semitic crime recorded by the police increased by 97%, compared with 26% across all hate crime categories.
On the Home Affairs Select Committee, we consider all hate crime – why it happens, who it comes from, who it affects and what we can do about it. We are exploring the rise of far-right extremism and last weekend we published our report on anti-Semitism, in reaction to this rise in incidents.
We took evidence from members of the Jewish community, from religious leaders, from politicians and others. Some of the evidence we heard was harrowing, and we were shocked to hear examples of behaviour which is, quite simply, totally unacceptable. The post-war re-emergence of this insidious form of racism is hard to understand and impossible to justify. It is even more dangerous when it becomes institutionalised, rather than being the preserve of those from whom we would expect no better.
Our report was extremely sensitive, yet agreed unanimously by a Committee with members from three political parties – the Conservatives, Labour and the Scottish National Party. That was important, and gives it huge validity. It underlined the fact that we all recognised the responsibility of everyone in politics, as well as community leaders outside of politics, to tackle it.
It is our job to lead by example and give confidence to all communities across the country. Our work reflected this, and I hope that it will be a launchpad for action. As a Committee we stand shoulder to shoulder with all those who have to experience anti-Semitism. I hope that the recommendations made in our report will help lead to changes that banish it from society for good.