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Anti-Semitism in the UK

Volume 836: debated on Wednesday 21 February 2024


The following Statement was made in the House of Commons on Monday 19 February.

“Last week, the Community Security Trust published its latest report on anti-Semitic incidents. It made for deeply disturbing reading. It showed that there were 4,103 instances of anti-Jewish racist hatred recorded across the UK in 2023. That is the highest annual total ever reported to the Community Security Trust. It is a 147% rise from the 1,662 anti-Semitic incidents the previous year, and 81% higher than the previous yearly record of 2,261 incidents, reported in 2021. Most shockingly, more than two-thirds of the incidents reported last year occurred on or after 7 October, when Hamas perpetrated its barbaric terrorist attack on Israel. The report also indicates that anti-Semitism began spiking before Israel’s military response had begun: the week immediately following 7 October saw 416 anti-Semitic incidents reported to the CST, which is higher than any subsequent week.

The CST’s findings, which tally with increases in offending reported by the police, are nothing short of a disgrace and an outrage. Examples highlighted in the report are shocking and reprehensible. I urge all Members to read the report because it shines a light on the scale and character of this disgraceful problem. The only reasonable conclusion to draw is that members of Britain’s Jewish community are suffering a level of hatred and abuse which is frankly shameful.

There is no excuse for the behaviour outlined in the CST report or seen in some of the shocking incidents that have occurred recently. The situation in the Middle East does not and will never give anyone the right to harass or intimidate others. I repeat, no one ever has that right. This Government will not stand for anti-Semitism of any kind. It is important to note that the police have comprehensive powers to deal with abhorrent conduct of this nature. For example, in the case of public order offences, where there is proof of racial or religious hostility on the part of the offender, offenders will be charged with racially or religiously aggravated versions of those offences, which will result in an uplift to their sentence. Furthermore, inciting racial hatred is an offence under the Public Order Act 1986, and anyone engaged in that appalling behaviour should expect to be arrested. Whenever and wherever criminality involving anti-Semitism occurs, this Government expect the police to investigate the incident fully and work with the Crown Prosecution Service to bring the perpetrators to justice.

We have been clear both before and since the 7 October attacks that we will do whatever it takes to keep Britain’s Jewish community safe. We have taken strong steps to confront the poison of anti-Semitism head on. We have increased funding to bolster security at Jewish schools, synagogues and other sites. A total of £36 million will be made available for these crucial protective measures across 2023-24 and the following financial year.

The Community Security Trust is an essential partner in our efforts to keep the Jewish community safe, and I pay tribute to it for the brilliant work that it does. The Home Office meets regularly with CST staff and co-operates closely with them. We keep dialogue open constantly, and both the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister have regular meetings with them. None the less, it should sadden us that these kind of precautions are necessary in the UK, in 2024. The work of organisations such as the CST is more important than ever, and we must remain vigilant. That includes sending the message loud and clear from this House—I hope from the whole House—that any instances of criminal behaviour will be identified, and those responsible caught and punished.

We are working closely with the police to ensure that hate crime and expressions of support for terrorist organisations are met with the full force of the law. The idea that anyone could celebrate or valorise Hamas for the appalling terrorist atrocities that it perpetrated on 7 October is beyond comprehension. It goes completely against the values of this country. Last month, we proscribed Hizb ut-Tahrir, an organisation that actively promotes and encourages terrorism and is responsible for spreading anti-Semitism. Hamas itself, of course, is already a proscribed organisation. Anyone who belongs to, or invites or expresses support for, a proscribed organisation is committing an offence. The penalties on conviction are a maximum term of 14 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

The right to protest is of course a fundamental part of our democracy, but that right cannot be exercised in a way that intimidates others or invokes fear in them. It is totally unacceptable for a small minority to incite hatred and commit crimes. The police have powers to deal with that, and we expect them to act. Where further powers are needed, we will not hesitate to act, which is why we recently announced a new package of measures to crack down on dangerous disorder—in particular, that committed at protests.

The CST’s findings on incidents within the sphere of higher education were especially disturbing. No one should be subject to anti-Semitic abuse while at university. Every effort must be taken to prevent hatred from flourishing in schools, universities and colleges. That is why we announced a further £7 million of funding to help to tackle anti-Semitism in education.

We are equally unwavering in our stance towards hatred and abuse directed at British Muslims. The Government have been in regular contact with representatives of the Muslim community, and we are aware of an increased number of reports of anti-Muslim hatred as well. That is of course unacceptable, and we have made additional funding available for protective security measures at mosques and Muslim faith schools.

Last month, we marked Holocaust Memorial Day. Just as we remember the horrors of the past, we must remain alert to present-day dangers. Anti-Semitism is an ancient hatred, which has reared its ugly head in the most abhorrent and evil ways throughout history. The CST’s findings show that we have much more to do if we are to rid our society of this poison, but the Government will never stop trying. We will never give up on this fight. It matters too much. Of course, that extends to ensuring that Members of Parliament are protected from acts of similar hatred, which some have suffered. I am thinking particularly of my honourable friend the Member for Finchley and Golders Green, Mike Freer, who is in the Chamber, whose office suffered a terrible arson attack just a few weeks ago.

To the anti-Semites, we say this: ‘You will not win. You will be shown up for the despicable racists you are’. To our Jewish friends and colleagues, I say this: ‘We stand with you. We understand your fears and we share your pain. We will protect you—today, tomorrow and always.’ I commend this Statement to the House.”

My Lords, I thank the Government for the opportunity to discuss this important Statement today and, indeed, what the Government have had to say in response to the appalling levels of anti-Semitism detailed in the recent Community Security Trust reports. I know that we will all wish to thank it for the truly crucial work that it does, not only in monitoring anti-Semitism but in the physical protection that it provides for Jewish schools, synagogues and other community events. I have been to see its work myself, and it will always remain with me. In particular, there was the experience in a north London Jewish school: an alarm was sounded and we, staff and children automatically hid under desks or tables in case of a terrorist attack on the school. It was truly shocking. That was in London—in our country, in 2019, before the obvious increased tension now.

The CST reported over 4,000 individual incidents of hate crime against Jews in 2023, with 66% of those since 7 October. This is a 147% rise. Assault is up by 96%. Threats are up by 196%. Abuse is up by 149%. That is taking place in every part of the UK, as the report makes clear. I know that the Government, as all of us in this Parliament do, share the belief that anti- Semitism is a stain on our society and must be tackled head on. What assessment have the Government made of the use by the police of the powers that they have to tackle anti-Semitism at marches, in universities and across society more generally? Of course, this is not for legitimate, peaceful protests but for those individuals who glorify extremism or celebrate unimaginable horror.

The Government rightly proscribed Hizb ut-Tahrir. What assessment have they made of the impact that this has had? Are there any other groups that they have considered proscribing to help deal with this extremism? What is the number of arrests, if any, that the Minister can say have taken place under this proscription?

The Government announced a very welcome increase of £7 million of funding, mentioned by the Minister in the other place in his Statement, for helping to tackle anti- Semitism in education. What progress is being made in distributing this extra £7 million? Education is a key to progress, as we see through many initiatives: I am sure that many noble Lords have taken part in the various visits with schoolchildren to Auschwitz.

The Government’s Statement also draws attention, quite rightly, to the shocking and totally unacceptable increase in abuse and hatred of Muslims, as highlighted by Tell MAMA and others. Funding has been made available for security at Muslim schools and mosques. Can the Minister tell us how much and how it is being distributed?

There are also questions for the Government about when we will see the new law to deal with hateful extremism. It is eight years since the counter-extremism strategy was updated, and the Government continually say that this will be done in due course. Action is needed now. Can the Minister give us any update on that? Will the Government look again at their decision to downgrade the reporting of non-crime hate incidents, which particularly affects the recording of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia? How is it that anti-Semitism can seemingly flourish online and remain there? Will the new Online Safety Act deal with this now, so that some of the hateful and extremist comments that we see online can be dealt with?

We all agree that abuse, discrimination and hatred have no place in our society. Too many people, including in Parliament, are threatened and intimidated because of who they are. We must all stand against that. I do not want to wake up, as I did yesterday, to read that a statue of Amy Winehouse has been defaced, with the Star of David covered by a pro-Palestinian sticker. We all know the intent behind that action. I do not want to read, as I did today, of a Jewish couple receiving a birth certificate with “Israel” scrubbed out. What is happening with respect to the investigation that the Government have launched into that? Can the Minister give us any update?

The extremism that we have seen is not our country, nor is it the country whose people, with others, fought and died to stamp out the evil of Hitler and his disgusting programmes of extermination. It is not true either of the vast majority of British people, who abhor such actions and extremism. Debate, protest and argument are all part of a healthy democracy. Hatred, prejudice and anti-Semitism in all its forms are not. We must stand together to stamp it out.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for the Statement. It is warming to see the Government taking things seriously. I will not raise many more questions as to what they are doing because I think we all want to do something to cut down on anti-Semitism.

I welcome the comments on and compliments to the Community Security Trust, which the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, referred to. I must declare that I am a member of the CST’s advisory board, although my advice is rarely sought. It does an incredible job, not only on the statistics on which we base a lot of our information but in the security it presents to the Jewish community in the UK. I do not know whether anyone has had a chance to go to the CST’s headquarters in Hendon. It has an array of television monitors that are the envy of Scotland Yard. There are rows and rows of them. How do they cope with recording things at each individual site? They are monitored and are activated by movement, so although you might have 100 monitors they may be covering 1,000 sites, because they do not come on until there is physical activity in that area. It is state of the art and quite amazing.

We all decry anti-Semitism, but it appears, sadly, that no political party is immune from it. It is rampant in the UK, and if it is rampant in the UK it will be rampant in organisations, including political parties. When it comes up in any political party, it is the duty of that political party or administration to stamp on that anti-Semitism. Take politicians as an example: they stand for the local council or for Parliament and people carry out due diligence, but sometimes they do not come out, at that time, with the feelings that are abhorrent to us all.

It was a horrific time, on 7 October, when there was a massacre on the borders of Gaza, in Israel. People were killed, murdered and slaughtered. A couple of hundred people were taken hostage, some of them from a music festival. The other day, I met here in this House a woman in her early 20s who was at that music festival—a gig that many of us, our children or our grandchildren might have gone to if it had been in the UK. She survived because she was underneath all the dead bodies. What trauma that is. That is a harsh example of anti-Semitism.

We are thankful to the CST for giving us this information: Israel had not yet responded on 7 October but there were 31 incidents of anti-Semitism in the UK that day. This continued until it peaked on 11 October, with 80 incidents in the UK. The week following 7 October saw 416 anti-Semitic incidents. The speed and number of these incidents on or after 7 October appear to show that this increase in anti-Jewish hate—that is what it is—was a celebration of Hamas’s attack. It was not just what everyone wants to believe: they were actually celebrating the attack. The subsequent response has added fuel to the flames.

I have seen this anti-Semitism in my own locality. There is a kosher supermarket which I patronise. On a week when I was not there—otherwise I could have been a hero—a man with a knife attacked the shop owners in Golders Green. Recently, there have been a number of incidents; it is hard to pick them out. One of the most horrifying ones was in a theatre in London, where the stand-up comedian decided, as part of his act, to wave a Ukrainian and a Palestinian flag, and invited the members of the audience to stand up and clap those flags. One guy in the audience was an Israeli, there enjoying the show, and he did not stand up—he did not make a fuss but he did not stand up. The comedian picked him out and he and the audience forced the guy out. The anti-Semitism forced him out of the theatre. This is the reality of how anti-Semitism is working in many fields.

I understand what is sometimes behind many of the people on the marches which take place—a horror at the Palestinians’ suffering in Gaza. I sympathise with and understand that. But I must say that, as an Orthodox Jew in the UK, I am reminded somewhat of the Duke of Wellington’s comment “I don’t know what effect they will have on the enemy but by God they frighten me”. I do not know what effect they are having on people in Parliament, but I will tell you the effect they have on the UK Jewish community.

The CST, which has been mentioned, works in schools in the UK to protect the people of those schools. At the moment, there are Jewish parents who are not sending their children to their Jewish schools because they are frightened. If they are sending them, they are telling them not to wear the school blazers or their yarmulkes—their head covering—because it will identify them. This is the UK, this is the country we live in, and this is not how it should be. My local synagogue has had security outside it forever; I used to do the security until they decided they would probably kill me first. But it is just something in practice.

So anti-Semitism is here, and it is rampant. The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, asked a number of questions; I will not repeat any of them because, in fact, the Government have understood what the problem is. The Labour Front Bench understands it and my Front Bench understands it. We must support the police, and support the Government, of whatever hue they are, in dealing with the dreadful horror of anti-Semitism that sadly exists in this country.

My Lords, I thank both noble Lords for their comments. On 19 February, my right honourable friend the Policing Minister made a very powerful Statement in the other place. He stated very clearly:

“This Government will not stand for antisemitism of any kind”.—[Official Report, Commons, 19/2/24; col. 500.]

He added that nothing could ever be used for its justification. He is, of course, right. Anti-Semitism is deplorable, and it is worse now than I have ever known it.

I turn to the late, great Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, formerly of your Lordships’ House, for some words to sum up my feelings on this. With the House’s indulgence, I will repeat them and I sincerely hope I speak for many. He said:

“Jews cannot fight antisemitism alone. The victim cannot cure the crime. The hated cannot cure the hate. It would be the greatest mistake for Jews to believe that they can fight it alone. The only people who can successfully combat antisemitism are those active in the cultures that harbour it. Antisemitism begins with Jews, but it never ends with them. A world without room for Jews is one that has no room for difference, and a world that lacks space for difference lacks space for humanity itself”.

I think that is very powerful.

I join both noble Lords in praising the work of the Community Security Trust, which I hope to visit very soon. I hope that my private office is busy, as we speak, arranging that. I also join the noble Lord, Lord Palmer, in noting that the rise in some of these incidents spiked after 7 October, but before there had been any military response by Israel, which really illustrates the pernicious nature of what we are talking about.

If I may, I will get on to the specific questions. I was asked a lot, and unfortunately, owing to my long-windedness, I will probably go a little over time—but I will not apologise for that as I would rather answer the questions.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, backed up by the noble Lord, Lord Palmer, asked what we are doing to protect Jewish schools. Department for Education Ministers have written to university, school and college leaders, urging them all to ensure that Jewish students are protected and, of course, are offered our support. That is part of the continued engagement with the sector to ensure that settings have the tools they need to act swiftly to tackle anti-Semitic abuse and discriminatory rhetoric.

The terrorist atrocities carried out against the people of Israel are of course horrifying, and anti-Semitism in British society will not be tolerated. This extends to our schools, colleges and universities. So the department is working with all relevant authorities to keep Jewish pupils, students and educational staff safe. We are providing an additional £3 million for the Community Security Trust to provide additional security at Jewish schools, synagogues and other Jewish community buildings. The Government’s Educate Against Hate website provides support for pupils to challenge racist and discriminatory beliefs, and we are due to imminently send letters to schools outlining advice on managing sensitive discussions around anti-Semitism.

The funding for the Community Security Trust will be maintained next year, with a total of £36 million available for the protection of UK Jewish communities between 2023-24 and 2024-25. The Prime Minister has also announced a number of other aspects to this funding. As I mentioned already, it is to provide security at schools, synagogues and other community sites.

I will also comment on the remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Coaker; I was talking to somebody who works at the Community Security Trust. They pointed out, in a very powerful comment, that in most schools the alarms are for people to get out. In Jewish schools, they are for people to stay in and hide under a table. That is what we are talking about. The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement confirmed that protective security funding for the Jewish community would be maintained at £18 million in 2024-25.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, also raised the important subject of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate. The Government have made an additional £4.9 million of funding available for protective security at mosques and Muslim faith schools, which brings the total funding to £29.4 million for both 2023-24 and 2024-25. We obviously have to listen to the concerns with the same attentiveness. The Government have made additional funding available. The total funding is a good number and is, I believe, delivering the appropriate safeguards. We have also extended the deadline for the protective security for mosques scheme and continue to invite mosques and Muslim faith community centres to register for protective security measures. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, for referring to the work of Tell MAMA, which he will know has been supported by DLUHC to the tune of £6 million, I think, since its inception.

I will move on to the subject of the police and their powers. The police are fully aware of the powers available to them. I believe there have been more than 600 arrests so far. I take this opportunity to thank the police for their work; six officers were injured over the weekend in these protests, and I wish them a speedy recovery, as I am sure all noble Lords do. Of those 600 arrests, I believe that more than 30 were made for terrorism-related offences.

That the police are fully aware of their powers has been repeatedly demonstrated, most recently with respect to a convoy planned from the north of England to north London, many parts of which have Jewish communities. The police stopped that convoy because they were concerned it would inflame tensions and engage in intimidatory behaviour. Under Sections 12 and 14 of the Public Order Act 1986 the police have powers to impose conditions on protests to prevent specific consequences, including serious public disorder, serious disruption to the life of the community or intimidation. The police can impose any condition they deem necessary to prevent these harms occurring and have made repeated use of these powers—for example, to prohibit protests outside the Israeli embassy and to ensure that vulnerable communities are protected.

The recent protests have seen a small minority dedicated to causing damage and intimidating the law-abiding majority. We respect the right to protest, which we regard as paramount in our country, but dangerous behaviour must not be tolerated. Noble Lords will remember that we announced new powers last week—for example, banning the use of face coverings, about war memorials, on using flares and so on.

As regards the recent protests, the Chancellor set out in his Autumn Statement that we are giving organisations such as the Holocaust Educational Trust £7 million over the next three years. That, as I said, goes into the overall protective security funding for the Jewish community.

However, we need to be very careful when we are criticising the police for actions they may or may not have taken at individual marches. It is difficult to judge what it is like when you are in a protest and trying to police it. We should trust the police. We know that they have good advice in the control rooms and so on, and that they are doing their very best under difficult circumstances. Once again, I praise their efforts.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, asked about the hate crime strategy and action plan. We are not intending to publish a new plan at this time, but we remain committed to continuing to protect all communities from crime, and we have a number of programmes in place to do so. Our absolute priority was to get more police on the streets. I will not rehash the numbers, but noble Lords will know that we were successful in that endeavour.

As regards non-crime hate incidents, the Government introduced a new code of practice to make the processes surrounding the recording and retention of personal data subject to stronger safeguards. The code better protects the right to freedom of expression, while respecting the operational importance of NCHI recording for the police in protecting vulnerable people and communities from harm. However, the code makes it clear that instances that include personal data can and should be recorded if the event presents a real risk of significant harm and if there is a real risk that future criminal offences may be committed. We would like to make it absolutely clear that the code relates only to non-crime hate incidents; it does not amend the hate crime framework in any way, shape or form.

The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, asked about the birth certificate incident that was widely reported. I happened to be with the Home Secretary when we were made aware of that, and he immediately asked officials to investigate the matter. Appropriate action will be taken, but at the moment investigations are ongoing.

On online hate crime, again the Government are clear that online offending is as serious as offline offending. We have very robust legislation in place to deal with threating and abusive behaviour or behaviour which is intended or likely to stir up hatred. This applies whether it takes place online or offline. The Home Office regularly engages with the tech companies about unlawful conduct on their platforms and shares information about the threat landscape. I believe the Home Secretary is visiting the west coast of the USA shortly, which will allow him to raise these matters with the companies concerned.

The Government have worked with the police to fund True Vision, which is an online hate crime reporting portal, designed so that victims of hate crime do not have to visit a police station to report. The Government continue to fund the national online hate crime hub, which is a central capability designed to support individual local police forces in dealing with online hate crime. We also made hate crime a priority offence in the Online Safety Act, which received Royal Assent in October last year.

Finally, the noble Lord, Lord Palmer, gave us some personal reflections on the kosher supermarket and restaurants. I saw a clip of that online, and I appreciate the points that he made. Let me be clear: in this, as in all the other subjects that are under discussion this evening, we have a robust legislative framework in place. We expect the police to fully investigate these sorts of offences and make sure that those who commit them feel the full force of the law. Anti-Semitism, or indeed any other form of intolerance of that type, is completely unacceptable in this country, and we have to be vigilant in our efforts to combat it.

My Lords, I refer to my entry in the Register of Members’ Interests. I would like to confirm with the Minister, and thank him if it is the case, that he announced three-year funding for the Community Security Trust. That is a welcome change of policy that for some years I have pressed the Government for, and it will make the trust’s work much easier.

In my view, there is a sinister change in what is going on with anti-Semitism beyond the noise, which is bad enough: it is the very specific, organised and co-ordinated targeting of individual Jewish people, at work and in their accommodation, in ways that we have never seen before. I do not mean awful random violent acts of anti-Semitism, which of course are dangerous and threatening for all of us and something that we need to deal with, but the co-ordinated targeting of people, isolating them and organising pile-ons to force them out of workplaces—in some cases off student courses and in other cases out of accommodation, but particularly from the workplace. That co-ordination is something that we have not seen in this country.

I urge the Minister to agree with me that, for the Jewish community to be safe, this crisis of anti-Semitism is going to require the maximum detailed co-operation between all parties in this House, because this scourge is already out of control and lives are being ruined that we are not even seeing. We are going to see more of that as they surface, because people are alone and terrified and are being picked off.

First, if I make a correct the record, I may have said three-year funding but I should have said two-year funding. If I mis-spoke, I apologise.

On the points that the noble Lord raises, I completely agree. The targeted stuff that he refers to is a particularly pernicious form of anti-Semitism, and I too have seen evidence of it. The police are aware of it, and I hope they will crack down on the perpetrators. The noble Lord is right that it needs a cross-party response, but to some extent he is missing the point: it needs a cross-society response. It is not just us in here; everyone has to get on board with this.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for bringing this Statement to the House and I thank the Government for making it.

I too welcome the Community Security Trust. The noble Lord, Lord Coaker, referred to the reported figures of anti-Semitic incidents being up by 147% last year on the previous year. One such incident, which was reported on 12.55 pm on 7 October, was of a car passing a synagogue in Hertfordshire with a Palestinian flag raised and an occupant inside putting his fist and arm out, shaking his fist in the air towards the synagogue that he was passing. By Monday 9 October other crimes were on the increase. A piece of graffiti was sprayed on a bridge in Golders Green, saying “Free Palestine”. I ask the Minister: what steps have been taken to find the perpetrators of each of the incidents that have been reported and recorded? No perpetrator should go without the sanction of the law.

The noble Lord, Lord Palmer, referred to the pro-Palestine demonstrations that we see on our streets in this country. In today’s protest outside Parliament, crowds were chanting “Free Palestine” and waving Palestine flags. They were right up to the metal barriers of this Parliament. Does the Minister not consider that if the police do not have the powers under the Public Order Act 1986 to impose conditions, perhaps that Act might be considered so that such conditions could involve moving those crowds across the road, so that they are not intimidating people trying to get into Parliament? Whether those are parliamentarians, members of their teams or people working on the Parliamentary Estate, it is something of an ordeal to have to pass through those crowds. Now I hear that the people working in this Parliament must leave the estate by an exit where they will not encounter these crowds. In another age, they might have been called mobs.

Do the Government not think it a stain on the honour not only of the country but of the way we are conducting our policing for such marches and intimidation to take place? There is a very fine line dividing the words “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” from the slogans we see on the railings at our entries to Parliament of “Free Palestine” and the flag waving. I would like to know whether there are powers to impose conditions of moving them away from these Houses of Parliament, where we applaud free speech and no one should feel intimidated when coming in. What powers are needed?

I am glad about the increased funding but I would like the Minister to think further. Can he say whether, in providing all this money to protect synagogues, we need to do more to protect people going about their normal business when they are interrupted or intimidated by marchers?

My noble friend asks a number of questions which I am afraid impinge on the operational activities of the police. I am obviously not able to comment on those. On whether we are satisfied that the police are sufficiently aware and have sufficient powers to stop marches and control public protest, we are, and I went into that in some detail earlier. Crowd policing is a very difficult thing to do, for obvious reasons. In some cases, I would absolutely defend the police’s right to carefully gather evidence and consult the experts whom they have available to them before potentially inflaming tensions—this is me dangerously straying into operational areas; I probably should not say even that—because the decisions that the police take have to be context-specific. It is not right for us to second-guess those decisions; the police could of course be challenged on them afterwards if they are found wanting.

We need to be careful when talking about these things, but we are confident that the police have the right powers. I am not aware of any particular incidents today. I did not feel particularly intimidated, although I completely accept that my noble friend might well have done. I am sure all those feelings and thoughts are being taken into account by the House authorities and by other police when they keep us safe.

My Lords, I really thought that the noble Lord, Lord Mann, spoke very powerfully and that it was not hyperbole. We almost cannot describe how serious the mood is at the moment. This is a serious time, historically, in terms of anti-Semitism, and this is not just some rhetorical flourish. I want to have that on record.

I am not frightened by the phrase “Free Palestine”, and I do not want to give the Minister any more excuses to clamp down on demonstrations or free speech, because goodness knows he has done a fair amount of that over the period I have been here. However, it is grim, or maybe fitting, that this Statement on the frighting rise of anti-Semitism is against the backdrop of the debate today on a Gaza ceasefire in the other place—albeit performative, because I note that not one life will be saved and there will not be a ceasefire as a consequence of this. That debate descended into a nasty mood of sectarianism. Worse, tonight we are hearing dark allegations that physical threats were made to elected Members, poisoning the democratic procedures of this Parliament. You associate anti-Semitism with those kinds of dark stories. We are in a building that has witnessed it today, never mind the protestors outside.

A much smaller incident that I would like the Minister to comment on is one that cheered me up. It might sound minor, but, after the unpleasant incident earlier this week of the Star of David necklace on the statue of Amy Winehouse being covered up, which the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, rightly referred to—it was so shocking, even though it seemed so small—I was pleased to see that a non-Jewish member of the public had gone out of their way to skive off work and scrape off the sticker from the statue. I know that because it was reported by the group Our Fight, a new grass-roots campaign of non-Jews challenging British anti-Semitism, which was set up after 7 October.

Would the Minister agree on the importance of such solidarity, which cuts across identity politics and all sorts of party tribalism? This was summed up by the New York mayor, Eric Adams, when he said in a speech:

“Israel, your fight is our fight”.

So much of the anti-Semitism we are seeing today, and much of the reaction to the war in Gaza, is, I am sad to say, around religious and racial identity and some of the most divisive, regressive sides of society. We should call for a universal condemnation of the racism of anti-Semitism.

I agree entirely with the noble Baroness. She will know that I am not brave enough to restrict her freedom of speech in any way. I think this goes back to what I said when I quoted Rabbi Sacks. He pointed out that anti-Semitism may begin with the Jews but it does not end there, so it is for all of us to combat it.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his words, and particularly for reminding us of the wise words of the late Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks of Aldgate. I echo the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Mann. It is as he says, but it is actually worse.

I was talking to a beauty journalist yesterday and she was telling me of the tweets going around about beauty products, telling people not to buy from certain businesses as they are owned by a Jewish person and not to buy from certain businesses as they are owned by a person who supports Israel. It is biting, and it is not just beauty products but clothing products and any Jewish business. This is truly shocking. This last happened 70 years ago. It is spiralling out of control. Jewish businesses are being targeted because they are owned by Jewish people, and people are responding to it. I do not know what the Government can do about that.

As I mentioned earlier in this Chamber, I am president of Westminster Synagogue. On Saturday, the police told us that they would protect us. They sent 20 police officers and four vans, because the demonstration walked past our synagogue, and they felt that was necessary. That demonstration included people chanting anti-Semitic slogans and the expression “From the river to the sea”, which means genocide of the Jewish people in the State of Israel. Of course, the police did not do anything to stop those chants and protests. They did, however, take one person away. That person was standing behind a railing with a banner saying, “Hamas are terrorists”. He was manhandled by the police, his arms were locked and he was walked away. My noble friend the Minister says that the police are restricted in what they can do; they seem to be selective in deciding what to do.

Of course, I do not expect my noble friend the Minister to have answers to all these specific instances tonight, and I can only add to the praise of CST, of which I am proud to be a supporter. I commend Sir Gerald Ronson’s incredible work in promoting CST to the organisation it has become.

I add that it was extremely disheartening to see the disgraced academic David Miller allowed to tweet out his vile abuse of Jewish charities, and it was very disappointing that the University of Bristol failed in its case. One can only think that it did not try particularly hard. I hope the Government will think through how they can take action to stop people like David Miller from posting such vile abuse to people who are just trying to be philanthropists and to help others in need.

I thank my noble friend. I heard his comments about the synagogue and the march this afternoon in another Question. On that incident, as I said, it is very difficult to second-guess the police after the fact. I appreciate where my noble friend is coming from. The decision obviously has to be context specific. But the police are accountable for their actions and, speaking from a personal point of view, I read a good article in the Spectator yesterday by our noble friend Lord Godson. He was right to raise the questions that he raised in that article, and we are all right to question the police, after the fact, about why they did what they did, how they did it and all the rest of the operational matters that they have to remain responsible for. On the targeting of businesses, I have seen some of this stuff online, and I am afraid it disgusts me as well. I am not sure what the Government can do, but this is obviously noted, and I will take it back to the Home Office.

House adjourned at 9.07 pm.