Statement by Ambassador Peter Wilson of the UK Mission to the UN, to the General Assembly Informal Meeting on Anti-Semitism
We welcome today’s timely debate. Next week we will meet in this hall to remember the Holocaust, in which at least 6 million Jews were murdered; a dark stain on human history. But even as we remember these terrible events, 70 years after the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Bergen-Belsen and other camps, recent events show that anti-Semitism has not gone away.
We all watched in shock, the brutal attack at the Hypercacher kosher supermarket in Paris. As my Prime Minister said then, this sickening show of anti-Semitism ‘strikes at the very heart of everything we stand for’. This attack was a painful reminder of how far we still have to go, and how it is incumbent on every one of us to tackle this problem, in our own countries and around the world.
Like many countries, the United Kingdom faced a dramatic increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents against our Jewish community last year. In July and August, we recorded 543 anti-Semitic incidents. That was more than the total recorded in the whole of 2013.
The United Kingdom is firmly committed to tackling all racism and xenophobia and to promoting freedom of religion or belief. We have a co-ordinated strategy for combating anti-Semitism. This includes one of the best legislative frameworks in the world to address hate crime. We also aim to make it as easy as possible to report hate crime.
Our hate crime web-facility, True Vision, has around 10,000 visits per month and received 3,641 reports in 2013- 2014. We communicate this widely; to reassure the public that those who commit hate crimes will be punished with the full force of the law.
We have provided an additional $200 million for the next two years for counter-terrorism efforts and we have invested millions in protecting Jewish schools. In the wake of the Paris attacks, UK Police are in intensive dialogue with Jewish Community leaders about next steps, including more patrols in key areas.
We also recognise that it is very important to provide guidance to law enforcement agencies on how to deal with anti-Semitic incidents. The United Kingdom College of Policing recently published a groundbreaking manual on hate crime, which provides clear guidance to all police forces on combating anti-Semitism, including the recognition that anti-Semitism can sometimes cloak itself in anti-Zionism.
We support education and projects that address anti-Semitism and all other forms of hatred. Part of this involves teaching about and commemorating the Holocaust. Among the projects we support is one run by the Anne Frank Trust, which uses her diary not only to educate about the horrors of the Holocaust but to tackle prejudice and discrimination today. We also support an annual Holocaust Memorial Day event, ensure that teaching about the Holocaust is a compulsory part of the school curriculum and we fund a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau for two children from every secondary school in England and Wales.
Internationally, we have been working with the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combatting Anti-Semitism, including negotiating with technology and social media companies to draw up effective protocols for addressing harm. And as the current Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, we have made sure that the Alliance has had plenty of time to address contemporary anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.
Next week, on Holocaust Memorial Day, our Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission will be setting out the steps that the United Kingdom will now take to create a permanent and fitting memorial to the Holocaust. We urge every member states to join with us in implementing, in their own countries, and through international organisations, a comprehensive programme of actions to counter anti-Semitism whenever and wherever it occurs.