As I write this article on the morning after the appalling terror attack at the Manchester Arena, my CST colleagues and I are keenly aware that we do not know what the coming hours, days and weeks will bring.
What we already know is bad enough. 22 dead and this will inevitably include children. Over 50 injured, some no doubt on the brink of life or death. Will there be further attacks? The truth is that nobody can say for sure, but we cannot assume that this was the only bomb. Nor can we assume that the terrorist was the person who built it.
It is deeply shocking, but it isn’t new. We have all seen the terrorist attacks across Europe in recent years, including those targeting Jewish communities. When CST was established in 1994, 85 people were murdered in a truck bombing at the main Jewish community building in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Shortly after, there were the car bomb attacks in London, against the Israeli Embassy and Balfour House. This is an enduring problem.
In recent years we have, perhaps, become somewhat desensitised to what it actually means when so many people are arrested on terrorism charges, as has been happening here in Britain. Sometimes, it feels like barely a week passes without news of such arrests and plots foiled.
At CST, we know what the overseas attacks, the threats and the British arrests mean. We know what the consequences can be, if just once, the terrorist escapes the attention of our extremely professional Police and security services. That risk is why we work so closely with the entire British Jewish community in helping to ensure that appropriate security measures are in place. Our intention is to protect our community and to provide reassurance. Importantly, we are also enabling men and women to play their part in that communal security effort.
Moving forward, as media attention turns to those who have lost loved ones, the pain of what has happened will be dreadful to witness. CST’s staff and volunteers will continue to do our utmost, working throughout our communities, and in close partnership with Police and Government.
This problem is going to persist for the foreseeable future. Our community needs to be resolute and focused. We ask that you are calm but vigilant, and that you play your part by supporting our security efforts, by joining your local security team, and by reporting both anti-Semitic incidents and suspicious activities. Thank you.