The office of HM Government’s Independent Adviser on Antisemitism (HMGIAA) has been established to provide independent advice to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on issues relating to antisemitism in the UK, and the most effective methods to combat it.
The Jewish Community in this country, like every community has a wide variety of experiences, perspectives and views. No Jewish person in this country must have their freedom to be themselves impinged upon. Each individual must be able to define their identity for themselves and be free to live their lives through their chosen identity. It is what we all expect as a basic fundamental human right.
The threat of terror attacks is real as continental Europe, the Middle East and America vividly demonstrate. The fear from assault and especially verbal, written and electronic abuse has increased as has the reality of actual incidents. But we have not yet stood up to the hidden insecurity of being tolerated rather than fully embraced. This is why civil society organisations need to engage in understanding and combating antisemitism in their own organisations. Government and Parliament can be a catalyst to both require but also inspire this to happen, and the new role of Adviser on antisemitism, can make a tiny and modest contribution to promoting this. The UK needs not just to tolerate its Jewish community but respect and enhance its freedoms.
For too long we have tolerated an acquiescence of mild antisemitism, usually rare, but sometimes unspoken, but capable of suddenly morphing into an explosion of intolerance and hostility. Camouflaged by language, but still directed and demeaning and used to isolate and discriminate against Jews. The role of HMGIAA is to ensure that government and through government the state, opens the principles and values of freedom that this country stands for.
The UK should be expected to be the leader in adapting to changing environments, but also to be dynamic in developing best practice from elsewhere. It will also be important to ensure that there is an open and effective dialogue that reaches out to other groups or people that face discrimination due to their faith, identity or background.
A remarkably high number of Jewish people have indicated their wish to leave this country because they saw no future for their family here. The world is far more mobile than ever before and business far more multi-national. But the concept of the packed suitcase in the Jewish home is one that our society and its leaders must comprehend. A measure of the success of this new role will be those suitcases being returned from the front door to a cupboard gathering dust.