Former Welsh Secretary says 'open anti-Semitism' must not be allowed 'to destroy our social fabric'

Former Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb's comments followed remarks made by a UK Government adviser on counterterrorism. Credit: PA Image

A leading Welsh MP says “open anti-Semitism” in the UK fuelled by divisions over the Israel-Gaza conflict should not be allowed “to destroy our social fabric here in Britain".

Former Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb was commenting following remarks made by a UK Government adviser on counterterrorism.

Robin Simcox, who is the Home Office’s Commissioner for Counterterrorism, said a reported increase in antisemitic incidents is a sign that Britain is “very sick indeed” and should be a “wake-up call".

Police have reported a sharp increase in such incidents since the beginning of this month.

In an article for The Times, Mr Simcox suggested that there has been “normalisation” of both anti-Israel extremism and antisemitism and the creation of a “permissive environment”.

Asked about those comments, Mr Crabb, who is the Parliamentary Chair of the Conservative Friends of Israel group, said: “Over the last eight days, I've spoken to members of the Jewish community in Cardiff and in London. 

“I’ve spoken to young Jewish people who are afraid, at university, of telling people that they are from a Jewish heritage.

"I've been told about Jewish business owners who are taking additional security measures to protect themselves. We've heard of Jewish schools in London having to close because of security fears. 

“This isn't Germany in the 1930s, that's Britain in 2023. And the fact that we've got this open anti-Semitism, this open Jew-hate going on in our society is a stain on our society. 

“We shouldn't allow the conflict conflict in the Middle East at the moment, which is grim and we hope ends very soon, but we can't allow that to cause huge divisions in our own society to destroy our social fabric here in Britain.”

Security Minister Tom Tugendhat has rejected Mr Simcox’s description. He told Times Radio that, “No, I don’t agree with that. I think that the United Kingdom is a country and an environment in which we take all threats to any communities extremely seriously.

“You just have to look at the response over the last 10 days – the way the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and I and many others have been reaching out to the Jewish community, making sure policing is appropriate… to give reassurance.

“The way in which we’ve been engaging as well with the Muslim community, some of whom are feeling also vulnerable at this time, feeling stigmatised.”

The minister also emphasised the right to freedom of expression as “absolutely fundamental” to democracy.

He drew a distinction between “perfectly legitimate” support for Palestine and promotion of Hamas, a proscribed terror group in the UK, which he said should result in arrests.

“This country champions freedom of speech and it’s absolutely right that we do because freedom of speech is… the basis in fact of every other liberty,” he said.

“I’m not going to be apologetic about freedom of speech… but I will stand up and say very clearly that proscribed organisations seeking to spread terror or hate in our community should be prevented from doing so and those who champion them should be arrested.”

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