Theresa Villiers, MP for Chipping Barnet, addressed a packed meeting at Barnet Synagogue, Eversleigh Road, on Sunday evening. Over 200 people from the Jewish community around Barnet and Enfield were there to set out their grave concerns about the increase in anti-Semitic incidents over the summer. The event was organised by Barnet Synagogue chair, Jeremy Apfel.
Ms Villiers’ opening speech at the meeting included the following: “It is shocking and unacceptable that during the summer, coverage of the conflict in the Middle East provoked a major increase in anti-Semitic attacks both in the UK and across the world. Anti-Semitic incidents reached record levels in July, constituting the highest ever monthly total recorded in the UK by the Community Security Trust.
“302 incidents were recorded in July, a rise of over 400% from the 59 incidents recorded in July 2013. By comparison, 304 incidents were recorded in the first six months of 2014. The previous highest ever monthly total was for January 2009 which also coincided with a period of conflict between Israel and Hamas. 51% of the 302 recorded incidents involved direct reference to the ongoing conflict.”
“I have raised this matter at the highest levels of government and have heard directly from the Prime Minister on how seriously he takes this matter. This meeting is very timely because I and my Conservative colleagues, Mike Freer, David Burrowes and Lee Scott, will be seeing the Home Secretary tomorrow to discuss this. I will ensure she hears your concerns loud and clear.”
“I have been working to combat anti-Semitism for many years, including taking part in the All-Party Inquiry into Anti-Semitism 2005-6. That report has led directly to a number of effective measures to combat anti-Semitism. For example, as a direct result of the report, police forces across the country now routinely record anti-Semitic incidents.”
Ms Villiers heard the concerns of her constituents regarding the anti-Semitism on the streets, on campus and on the internet. There was also repeated reference to unbalanced coverage of the Middle East by the broadcast media. Ms Villiers reiterated her strong support for the Jewish community and her determination to work combat anti-Semitism in all its forms.
Sunday’s meeting was one of a number that have taken place in North London between Conservative MPs and their constituents to discuss this issue. Matthew Offord, David Burrowes and Mike Freer have taken part in similar meetings.