Christine Jardine: ‘Division is feeding the sickness of antisemitism — MPs must unite to tackle it’

One morning, not too long ago I visited a school in north London where, when the alarm went off, the children showed me what I should do.

“Hide under the desk” they said, “that is the alarm to tell us there is an intruder in the school.”

My heart broke for these primary school youngsters already aware that, simply by birth, they were already surrounded by those who would harm them.

I was a guest at one of the capital’s Jewish schools as part of a visit organised by the Community Security Trust to introduce me to the sort of antisemitism which was already on the rise in our cities.

As well as explaining the alarm, the children told myself and other visiting MPs stories of the abuse they had faced on their way to school, in the park playing with their siblings or in one terrifying instance of having their car attacked at traffic lights because a pedestrian spotted their keppah, or cap.

And all of this was before the horrifying events of 7th October, and the ensuing conflict in Israel and Gaza, which has led to a significant escalation of antisemitism across the country.

Between that date and 23rd October, The Community Security Trust has recorded at least 600 antisemitic incidents in the UK.

That is the highest number of incidents they have ever recorded in a 17 day period, and a frightening 687% from the same period last year.

The anecdotal evidence is just as disturbing. Some Jewish children have been advised not to wear their blazers on the way to and from school, for fear of antisemitic attacks.

Posters of Israeli hostages have been defaced with Hitler moustaches. Antisemitic online “pile-ons” have become far too commonplace. There are reports of an increase in incidents on our University campuses.

All of this has created significant fear in British Jewish communities.

That is why this week I wrote to equalities minister Kemi Badenoch to call for a cross party meeting to address how we can tackle this growing sickness.

I am confident the minister shares my belief that there is no place for bigotry or hatred in our country, as do others across politics.

If we are to stamp out antisemitism I believe that we must do it together, build on the cross-party consensus which emerged in October and not allow party politics to intervene.

Division is what has fed this evil and we must not allow division to undermine our attempts to tackle it.

Instead we should look to the spirit in which, each year, parliament comes together to debate Holocaust Memorial Day to reflect both respect for those who lost their lives and determination that it should never happen again.

In the current difficult climate we now must demonstrate that we are as good as our word. Those children in that school in North London, and in others across the country, deserve no less. is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.