On Sunday, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Rt. Hon. Robert Jenrick MP, announced £100,000 of Government funding to tackle the spread of antisemitic material on social media. He also guaranteed his “unflinching support” for the Jewish community.
While addressing the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Communities Secretary explained that the funding will support the Antisemitism Policy Trust’s ongoing work to tackle the spread of antisemitic tropes online and challenge harmful narratives about the Jewish community.
Mr Jenrick said “the scourge of antisemitism is a stain on our society. Whether on our streets or in the comfort of our own homes using social media, there is no place for antisemitic abuse, and this Government will do everything possible to ensure Jewish people feel safe wherever they are”. He then vowed his support for the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre to be built next to the Houses of Parliament.
In the same speech, Mr Jenrick pledged that he would personally write to all councils and universities this week demanding they adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism as a matter of urgency.
He continued to reassure the Jewish community that he would contact leaders of councils and university Vice Chancellors to press for action if complaints involving antisemitic abuse were not dealt with in a timely manner and in accordance with the IHRA definition.
The Secretary of State raised particular concerns about local councils’ support for the “damaging and divisive” Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which he claimed wasted “time and taxpayer’s money… to the detriment of delivering high quality services for residents”.
Mr Jenrick also celebrated the Government’s proscription of the antisemitic Hezbollah terror group in full stating: “It gives me great comfort that the Hezbollah flag, emblazed with an automatic rifle, will no longer be flown with impunity on the streets of London or the UK”.
The Community Security Trust (CST) monitors antisemitism and reported last month that there were 892 antisemitic incidents recorded nationwide in the first half of 2019, 323 of which (36 per cent) were related to social media. This represents a stark increase on last year’s figure of 221 social media incidents in the first half of the year and means there was a 46 per cent rise in the number of online incidents recorded by CST compared with 2018.
Read the Community Secretary’s full speech here.