ANAL­Y­SIS MPs’ race-hate re­port, a year on

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BYLEONSYMONSAND BERNARD JOSEPHS

LIT­TLE MORE than a year ago, an all-party par­lia­men­tary re­port into an­tisemitism painted a grim pic­ture: the old­est ha­tred was alive and well in Bri­tain.

The MPs from the all-party par­lia­men­tary group on an­tisemitism who pro­duced it ad­mit­ted they had been shocked by some of the things they un­cov­ered — for ex­am­ple, the lev­els of se­cu­rity at Jewish schools paid for by the com­mu­nity.

More of­ten than not, such re­ports are pre­sented with a sim­i­lar fan­fare and then swiftly con­signed to a House of Com­mons li­brary shelf to gather dust. So what has hap­pened to this one? Quite a lot, with more on the way. The gov­ern­ment sig­nalled how se­ri­ously it took the re­port’s find­ings by quickly meet­ing one of the key rec­om­men­da­tions, the set­ting up of a cross-de­part­men­tal an­tisemitism task force chaired by Par­mjit Dhanda MP, par­lia­men­tary un­der-sec­re­tary at the De­part­ment for Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment. It was due to hold its sec­ond meet­ing yes­ter­day.

But the JC un­der­stands that two min­istries, the De­part­ment for Cul­ture, Me­dia and Sport, and the De­part­ment for In­no­va­tion, Univer­si­ties and Skills, have been rapped over the knuck­les for not tak­ing the is­sue se­ri­ously enough.

“Th­ese de­part­ments sent ju­nior civil ser­vants who were not prop­erly briefed, while ev­ery­one else was rep­re­sented by se­nior per­son­nel. There was se­ri­ous pres­sure from Num­ber 10 and the Cabi­net Of­fice to make this suc­ceed and the de­part­ments were told to get their act to­gether,” the JC was told.

A num­ber of other rec­om­men­da­tions have been put for­ward.

Schools Min­is­ter Jim Knight an­nounced last month that the gov­ern­ment will pay for new se­cu­rity mea­sures in schools out of its cap­i­tal bud­get.

All 43 Bri­tish po­lice forces will be us­ing the same sys­tem to re­port an­tisemitic crimes and in­ci­dents by 2009 at the latest.

The Schools Link­ing Net­work, a pro­gramme to link to­gether schools of dif­fer­ent faiths and back­grounds based on a model in Brad­ford in the wake of race ri­ots there, has been ex­tended na­tion­ally, with £2 mil­lion of gov­ern­ment money to­gether with £1 mil­lion from the Pears Foun­da­tion.

The Crown Pros­e­cu­tion Ser­vice has started an in­ter­nal re­view of how it deals with cases of race hate and racial in­cite­ment.

Jeremy New­mark, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Jewish Lead­er­ship Coun­cil, said the mes­sage he and com­mu­nal col­leagues took to their meet­ing with Mr Dhanda this week was pos­i­tive.

He said: “The im­por­tant thing was that a se­ri­ous cross-de­part­men­tal work-pro­gramme was de­vel­oped around the re­port.

“We are de­lighted that the gov­ern­ment es­tab­lished a cross-de­part­men­tal task force to over­see de­liv­ery. The in­volve­ment of the JLC, Board of Deputies and Com­mu­nity Se­cu­rity Trust in such a task-force is un­prece­dented. It is a se­ri­ous and mean­ing­ful en­hance­ment of the part­ner­ship be­tween gov­ern­ment and the Jewish Com­mu­nity in tack­ling an­tisemitism.

“It is true that some de­part­ments have been slower off the mark. How­ever, re­cent meet­ings of the group have demon­strated that it has real teeth and the abil­ity to hold of­fi­cials to ac­count where ac­tion is not forth­com­ing.

“We have ev­ery con­fi­dence that the Sec­re­tary of State will be well po­si­tioned to take an over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive re­port back to par­lia­ment next May.”

Mark Gard­ner of the CST com­mented: “The fact that the in­quiry is now re­ferred to by the gov­ern­ment as a se­lect com­mit­tee is an im­por­tant demon­stra­tion of its com­mit­ment to the process.”

On the rec­om­men­da­tion of joint lead­er­ship pro­grammes for young Jews and Mus­lims, Mr Gard­ner said: “The Jewish com­mu­nity is well aware of the need for bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Mus­lims.

“We wel­come the on­go­ing de­vel­op­ment of mod­er­ate Mus­lim com­mu­nal bod­ies and note the re­cent ex­cel­lent ex­am­ple of the Chief Rabbi ad­dress­ing the City Cir­cle group, a Mus­lim fo­rum in the City of Lon­don.”

The all-party group chair­man, John Mann MP, vis­ited the US Congress last week af­ter an in­vi­ta­tion from the re­cently re-launched Con­gres­sional Task­force against An­tisemitism, ful­fill­ing an­other rec­om­men­da­tion that the group should take the ex­am­ple of the in­quiry and its find­ings abroad.

He said: “We wel­come all the de­vel­op­ments, par­tic­u­larly the con­sen­sus we have with the other par­ties. This means that the gov­ern­ment has no ‘wrig­gle room’ on this.”

De­nis MacShane MP, who chaired the re­port com­mit­tee, said: “Many of the points Mr Brown made in his speech on Wed­nes­day first ap­peared in the re­port. We set the agenda.”

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