In an interview with the Jewish News, Rt. Hon. Sir Eric Pickles MP has expressed his concern about the growing rise of anti-Semitism in Britain, underlining his belief that new Prime Minister Theresa May will continue to protect the Jewish community in her new post.
Sir Eric described Prime Minister May as a “good friend of the Jewish community”, noting that she was “very influential in ensuring that money was found to offer security and protection to various Jewish events”.
CFI’s Parliamentary Chairman referred to the “shift towards anti-Semitism on the left of British politics”, as well as a “shift towards anti-Zionism”, which he determined was symptomatic of the “hardening of the left”.
He asserted that the Conservative Party, unlike Labour, is “very welcoming to people that are Jewish by birth, as indeed to other minorities”.
In his role as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for post-Holocaust Issues, Sir Eric explained the discussions on anti-Semitism and Holocaust remembrance elsewhere in Europe: “There are some countries trying to rewrite their history – there are some countries trying to pretend that they were entirely victims of the Nazi regime when in many cases they had people working hand in glove with the Nazis”.
Sir Eric recently played an instrumental role in the drafting of a working definition on anti-Semitism, adopted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in May 2016.
The former Communities and Local Government Secretary emphasised the importance of monitoring and recording anti-Semitic incidents, and said that he was “part of the group that persuaded the Government to start to monitor anti-Semitic attacks”. He said that he believed this process has thus far been “a success”.
Sir Eric asserted that the process of monitoring anti-Semitism is “not only to ensure that British Jewish people and visitors feel safe and secure – but also it’s important to understand that Jewish people are an important part of the British identity”.
He underlined the role of social media in the rising levels of anti-Semitism: “Because of social media, the person that might go out and write something horrible on a wall can just send it out very quickly on social media and thousands of people can read it”.
The brutal murder of Jo Cox MP last month has made MPs “much more vigilant” about receiving or seeing unpleasant messages on social media, Sir Eric said.
In his closing remarks, Sir Eric called for a return to “those old fashioned kind of British qualities of tolerance, politeness and general ability to get on”.
Follow this link and click on 11:20 to listen to Sir Eric on the Jewish Views podcast.