Tonight, Jewish families around the world will start to celebrate Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah. It seems like a good moment to reflect upon our work over the past year. We have had an incredibly busy year, and that is both a good and a bad thing.
First the good. Almost 700 people are now registered to volunteer with us, a growing number of whom are not Jewish, which we find hugely encouraging. To support our growing team of volunteers we have expanded from one part-timer to two exceptional full-time members of staff, and we are investing time and money in sophisticated systems (and cybersecurity) to manage our projects and the network of volunteers who work on them. Our work with Downing Street continues to bear fruit, including the British Government’s agreement to become the first in the world to adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism. Our strong relationship with the Home Office has also produced results, such as the first ever ban on a far-right terrorist group, National Action. Our lawyers have held the authorities to account, winning our 13-month High Court legal battle against the Crown Prosecution Service over a decision not to prosecute, launching our first private prosecution, and producing expert guidance for Government bodies, regulators and universities on the application of the definition of antisemitism. We published new research on the prevalence and effects of antisemitism, and antisemitic crime and prosecutions. We have helped those who seek our assistance to secure criminal and professional sanctions for antisemites, and those results have been widely reported in the media, sending a clear message to other antisemites that we are working to ensure that their hatred has severe consequences. Our team has also travelled the country, speaking to Jewish communities about what action they can take against antisemitism, and educating the non-Jewish public about the threat to society that antisemitism poses. Campaign Against Antisemitism is now three years old and has developed an excellent reputation, so we are privileged to have secured the support of our distinguished Honorary Patrons, public figures who stand with us in our fight against antisemitism.
The bad news is that our work is increasingly necessary and urgent. Our research showed that antisemitic crime surged by 45% between 2014 and 2016, whilst prosecutions remained at a paltry level. We are hearing from more and more people affected by antisemitism, many of whom never imagined that they would experience it in their lifetime, and that when they did experience it, they would have such difficulty in obtaining justice from the authorities. We have also seen disturbing violent manifestations of antisemitic hatred, including the firebombing of two kosher restaurants, and a man chasing Jews down the street armed with a meat cleaver and machete, shouting antisemitic abuse. We remain extremely disturbed by the way in which antisemitism in major political parties, especially the Labour Party, remains unaddressed. Our work relating to police forces, prosecutors, regulators, universities and political parties is increasingly urgent, and we are lucky to continue to recruit outstandingly talented and committed volunteers to take on this difficult work.
We would like to end on a very positive note: for the past three years, we have worked with YouGov to measure antisemitic prejudice in Britain. Whilst antisemitic crime is increasing alarmingly rapidly, antisemitic sentiment amongst non-Jewish Britons is in decline. That means that, British people are increasingly thinking about and rejecting antisemitism. Antisemitic hatred has been growing all over Europe, but in Britain, uniquely, antisemitism is falling, although we still have a long way to go. We believe that our media strategy of talking about antisemitism and raising it as an urgent national issue is one of the factors leading a significant number of British people to think about and fulsomely reject antisemitism. In the next few days, weeks and months, you will continue to see our work and its impact in the news.
Our campaign is run by volunteers like you and our staff of two and our office are funded by people like you. We will do whatever it takes to secure the future of British Jews and protect British society from the poisonous ideology of antisemitism. To succeed, we rely on people like you to volunteer or give a regular monthly donation, so if you haven’t already supported us in this way, please play your part by donating monthly or volunteering today.
On this Jewish new year, on behalf of everyone at Campaign Against Antisemitism, we wish all of our supporters, Jewish and non-Jewish, a happy, healthy, safe and successful year ahead. It is thanks to your support and solidarity that we can be hopeful for the future.
Cover image credit: Facsimile Editions