1. How challenging has the rise in anti-Semitism been for you in your role as Chief Executive and CST?
It may sound clichéd, but really this is why we do our work. It is why we invest in security and professional staff and highly trained volunteers. This is why we have CST, because of the ongoing levels of antisemitism and terrorist threat: things we know are out there, but it is only really at times like this summer that most of our community pays attention to such things. So, this summer’s work has two components, both of them absolutely needing to be done. Firstly, providing all of the security to facilitate our communal life, and trying to keep up with all of the protests, and the antisemitic outbursts throughout the country. Secondly, reassuring our community and telling them what is being done to keep them safe. Both aspects were very difficult because of their importance and the sheer volume, but I sincerely believe that we met the challenge.
2. With Yom Kippur approaching, what are your best suggestions for the Jewish community to stay safe?
The chagim are always an important time for us, because just about our entire community is visible and gathered at prayer. We always provide a comprehensive security operation and the recent Government raising of the overall UK threat level to ‘severe’, means that more police should be visible than usual. We really value our community’s cooperation and involvement in this annual security operation; and this year we will be especially grateful.
3. How do you suggest people respond if they are aware of anti-Semitism online?
In a sense, it is actually easier to report online antisemitism, because the offending material can be screen grabbed and then sent on to Police and CST. If it can be prosecuted, then we will push for that. If not, then it is still valuable as it helps us to see what our enemies are saying or doing. The hardest aspect is knowing when to interact with antisemites on websites, social media, twitter etc. Unless you know what you are doing with computer security measures, it may be best just to alert CST to what you have come across, rather than delve further into some of the murkier places on the web.
4. What are your views on the increased grassroots organisations that are tackling anti-Semitism?
It is right and natural that social media is helping to facilitate grassroots protest, which CST has helped to secure and make happen, but is not the kind of street demonstration that we ourselves would actually organise. Nevertheless, anyone seeking to become a serious and lasting voice needs to take care over reputational and legal issues, and this can be difficult to manage.
5. How has the support provided by the JLC benefited the CST?
JLC is a valued partner organisation for CST. We work together most weeks, if not every single day. Furthermore, CST is constantly working with JLC’s member bodies on issues of security and fighting antisemitism. This kind of cooperation and common goal for the good of our community is the only way forward.