Hardyal Dhindsa
Hardyal Dhindsa

A Police and Crime Commissioner’s reflections on anti-Semitism

Ever since making Britain my home in 1967, I have been determined to stand up to racism, but whilst I heard about anti-Semitism, it was not something I encountered directly in my home county of Derbyshire, where the only synagogue closed its doors in 1986. I am now the county’s Police and Crime Commissioner, the first and only (to date) BME Commissioner, and I am proud to be the National Hate Crime Lead for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

It was in that capacity that last Tuesday, 17th October, I met with members of the Jewish community in London. The series of meetings was organised by Campaign Against Anti-Semitism as part of my determination to understand the resurgence of anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom and to give members of the Jewish community the chance to raise concerns with me directly.

It was an invaluable opportunity to hear first-hand accounts from Holocaust survivors, Jewish university students and representatives from the Charedi community, including Shomrim, the Jewish neighbourhood watch patrol. I saw (and could actually feel) how rising anti-Semitic hate crime and its apparent acceptance as ‘the norm’ by the wider society has caused a real fear to run through the Jewish community. I was shocked to hear from Holocaust survivors how they felt that the anti-Semitism that forced them to flee Europe was now gaining a foothold on our shores, and I was appalled to hear about the levels of anti-Semitism at universities and the anti-Semitic abuse suffered by the Charedi community, who are the most visibly-identifiable Jews in Britain.

I heard how anti-Semitism is complex, often multifaceted and based on old conspiracy theories. I learned how anti-Semitism in its most modern forms manifests and hides itself. The explosion in social media channels has enabled anti-Semitic ideology to develop, and trend, faster than ever before, combining strains of far-right anti-Semitism, far-left anti-Semitism and Islamist anti-Semitism. There has been a dramatic growth of anti-Semitic themes on internet platforms, including conspiracy theories, Holocaust denial and use of hatred of the Jewish state as a disguise for raw anti-Semitism.

The more I heard, the more determined I became to make a difference in fighting this ancient hatred. I understand how many Jews see modern anti-Semitism through the prism of the Holocaust. I appreciate how important it is for the Jewish community to have confidence in the will of the police and authorities to protect them. I understand that in order for the authorities to protect Jews, police officers must be equipped with specific and detailed training on the nature and forms of contemporary anti-Semitism.

As anti-Semites are becoming bolder, countering anti-Semitism requires a response from the police and authorities that is constantly updated. It needs to draw on the skills of experts in the field, such as the members of the Jewish community I met with last Tuesday. I look forward to further work and engagement with the Jewish community to implement concrete steps to stem the tide of anti-Semitic hate.

Reflecting on what I learned in just one short day I know that I need to consider how to ensure that British police forces rise to the challenge of stamping out anti-Semitism. But I would also like to send a clear message to the Jewish community: the responsibility for fighting anti-Semitism is shared by all of British society, and though rising anti-Semitic crime has caused understandable fear, know that across the country my colleagues and I stand with you, and will do everything in our power to protect and defend you.

 

About the Author
Hardyal is the Police and Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire, UK
Related Topics
Related Posts
Comments