Leaders from a number of UK Jewish communal organisations, met with Prime Minister David Cameron at Number 10 Downing Street.The scheduled meeting, which is an annual fixture in the Prime Minister’s diary, was highly constructive and allowed the community to discuss substantial communal, national and international issues.
The delegation from the community was arranged and coordinated by the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) and included heads of a number of communal organisations from different sectors of UK Jewish life.
It was led by Mick Davis, Chair of the JLC Board of Trustees. The Movement for Reform Judaism was represented by our Chair, Robert Weiner.
The meeting was opened by the Prime Minister who referenced the terrorist atrocities in Paris and sought to reassure the Jewish community that communal organisations will be properly engaged with the police and security service. The delegation thanked the Prime Minister for making minsters available to the community and for the very close cooperation with the CST with the police.
Speaking at the start of the meeting the Prime Minister said: “We have a full agenda of issues to discuss but I know that everyone will be very concerned about what happened in Paris and the appalling attacks. I thought it was very moving going to Paris on Sunday and seeing so many people holding signs saying ‘Je Suis Juif’,’I am a Jew’, showing real solidarity with France’s Jewish community. I want to reassure you that we will try and do everything we can to make sure that your organisations are properly engaged with our police and security services right across the board to see if there is anything more we can do to ensure security. I think we have to recognise that in a modern democracy you can never protect every threat but we should do everything we can and be as vigilant as we can to help reassure. I had a very good meeting with police and security services to address all these issues. I think we have very capable security services in this country but there is always more to learn; there will be lessons to learn from Paris. I hope today to hear more about some of the particular concerns from the community. But I think we should use the momentum of those great demonstrations to emphasise what we are in this country: a very successful multi-ethnic, multi-faith democracy.”
Domestically, the meeting discussed antisemitism and counter-terrorism, with a request for clear direction regarding prosecutions for antisemitic posts on social media, and flags, chants and placards on demonstrations. The discussion included the increase in boycott and delegitimisation activity on campus and issues impacting Jewish and other faith schools from the response to the Trojan Horse report. The delegation also proposed a joint project between the government and the community to ensure that the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration is marked appropriately in the UK.
On the international agenda, the meeting discussed the recent delisting by the European Union of Hamas as a terrorist organisation, the application by the Palestinian Authority (PA) to join the International Criminal Court, and incitement to violence by the PA. World Jewish Relief discussed their work in Ukraine and supporting humanitarian relief around the world.
Commenting on the discussions Mick Davis, Chairman of the Trustees of the JLC said: “This was a timely meeting with the Prime Minister and we were grateful to have the opportunity to raise the most pressing issues for the community. We were particularly reassured by the Prime Minister’s statement of the Government’s determination to fight terrorist threats, oppose antisemitism and to oppose boycotts and the deligitmisation of Israel.”
Vivian Wineman, President of the Board of Deputies and Chair of the JLC Council of Membership said: “We are grateful that the Prime Minister made the time to meet with the community leadership. We were especially pleased with the constructive engagement of the Prime Minister on all the issues that we raised, including among others our request to run a joint project to commemorate the centenary year of the Balfour Declaration.”
Robert Weiner thanked the Prime Minister saying: “I would like to add my Movement’s and indeed my own thanks to you and your government for ensuring that Britain remains a welcoming and inclusive multicultural society, whilst providing unwavering support that enables us to practice Judaism freely here in the UK.”