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Westminster Hall

Wednesday 15 December 2004

[Mr. Edward O'Hara in the Chair]

Anti-Semitic Incitement

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the sitting be now adjourned.—[Mr. Ainger.]

9.30 am

Mrs. Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside) (Lab/Co-op): I am pleased to be opening this extremely important debate, and I thank Mr. Speaker for giving me the opportunity to do so.

Last week, in Sofia, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe ratified its Berlin declaration on combating anti-Semitism. The declaration recognised for the first time the link between events in the middle east and attacks on Jews in European countries. Two weeks ago, the United Nations General Assembly passed its first resolution opposing anti-Semitism.

Those events are significant and highlight the fact that today's debate is taking place in a context of reawakening global hostility towards Jews. My focus will be on the impact of that hostility in the United Kingdom and on identifying what should be done to halt the growth of what the Chief Rabbi, Dr. Jonathan Sacks, calls

That virus mutates, but as the Chief Rabbi says, it can be cured.

I do not generalise about any faith or any community, and it is important to remember that during our discussion. My comments refer to the disproportionate impact of the words and actions of a minority—often, a very small minority—of individuals who claim to act on behalf of their faith. Muslims and Jews have much in common: they work together against racism and face major issues of common concern, including the threats to halal and shechita—their methods of animal slaughter. It is important that Islamic extremists are not allowed to drive a wedge between the two communities.

The hostility towards Jews from parties of the far right, such as the National Front and the British National party, is familiar, but all too often, those who challenge the hatred emanating from the right flirt with extremist Islamic groups that espouse the very same bigotry. Often, that is linked with antagonism to Zionists—those who believe in the Jewish people's right   to self-determination in the state of Israel. The word "Jew" is replaced by the word "Zionist", and it then appears legitimate to view Jews as all-powerful, devious international conspirators whose influence is disproportionate to their minuscule numbers. In saying that, I should make it clear that criticism of the policy of the Government of Israel is, of course, not necessarily anti-Semitic.

Using their extensive state apparatus, the Arab media incite vicious hatred of Jews to this very day. In this internet and satellite age, such poisonous messages do not remain in their countries of origin, but are widely
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disseminated to the homes of people in this country. That is why they are such a grave threat for us. They include Holocaust denial—the rejection of the fact that the Holocaust ever happened. For example, the Egyptian state-controlled newspaper, al-Akhbar, called the Holocaust

The Arab media promote the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", a tsarist forgery proclaiming that Jews are engaged in an international conspiracy to rule the world. The Nazi version of the protocols can be viewed here in   the United Kingdom on the Hamas website, courtesy of a commercial provider based in Frith street. In the introduction to the protocols, the terms Jews and Zionists are used as though interchangeable. Viewers of the website can also read at their leisure the Hamas charter, of which article 7 states:

and article 22, referring to Jews, reads:

Surely, by any standards, that is incitement. The Nazis' favourite book, "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion", is required reading for Hamas activists, and I am told that copies of that book, and "Mein Kampf", are readily available on the streets of most major cities in this country.

Arab media, to this day, embrace mediaeval blood libels. The lie that Jews use the blood of non-Jewish children to bake their Passover matzahs first appeared in Norwich in 1144, but it is very much alive today in the Arab world. Earlier this year, the Hezbollah station al-Manar, operating from south Lebanon, beamed its series Al Shatat to its worldwide audience of 10 million. That series depicts Jews as avaricious global conspirators. I have viewed some of it; indeed, a satellite dish can be purchased for £200 enabling one to watch it in any home in this country. I saw two episodes, one of which—episode 20—will stay in my mind for ever. It contained a scene showing Jews—we knew that they were meant to be Jews because they were men with big black beards, big black hats and long cloaks—kidnapping a gentile child and taking him into their home, where the child cried out for his mother. These so-called Jews held the child by the wall, slit his throat—there are graphic details in the programme; the blood is seen to drip into a bowl—and then used the blood to bake the Passover matzahs. The same "Jews" were then seen eating the matzahs, proclaiming how tasty they were.

That is, of course, absurd. However, the story is not just projected in Lebanon but beamed across the world, and easily accessible in this country. The horror of it is that it is believed. The director of the series stated clearly that it was "nothing but the truth". Again, surely that is incitement and surely it should horrify all of us.

The impact of such vicious anti-Semitism, of which I have given very few examples, is to inject unpleasantness and fear here in the United Kingdom. It is undoubtedly harming community relations. It is an outrage that incitement to hatred and violence is going unchallenged. Last year, people dressed as suicide bombers paraded in a float on the streets
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of   London. They were participating in an anti-Iraq war   demonstration, part organised by the Muslim Association of Britain. That organisation presents itself as a mainstream community organisation. On 6   November, Hezbollah flags were seen flying at a central London demonstration organised by the pro-Iranian Islamic Human Rights Commission. All of those things lead to an atmosphere of concern for Jews and non-Jews.

We should all remember the atrocities at Mombassa, Istanbul and Buenos Aires, which killed both Jews and non-Jews but are part of the result of the incitement to hatred.

The feting of Sheikh Qaradawi in London has helped to legitimise anti-Semitism. Qaradawi opposes discourse with Jews and has called for them to be killed, describing them as having "incomparable iniquity". His sermons in June of this year made a plea:

That was broadcast live on television. It did not stay in the Arab state in question but was beamed around the world through the technology that is now available and was viewed by people in this and other European countries. The sheikh's other causes include supporting gays being put to death—he has said that the question is only about what method of execution should be used—and approving a husband's right to beat his disobedient wife in certain circumstances.

In extremist Islamic texts, Jews are repeatedly referred to as apes and pigs. The Palestinian Authority broadcast of the Friday sermon by Sheikh Ibrahim Mudeiris on 5 November 2004, referring to the late President Arafat's illness, said:

That is outrageous. Unfortunately, it is not an isolated incident, and further examples of the reference to Jews/Zionists as apes and pigs appears to be a common message in extremist Islamic circles.

I do not want to give the impression that all is disaster. Indeed, there are some opportunities for positive thinking. For example, on 3 December, the Palestinian preacher Muhammad Jammal Abu Hunud preached a sermon, broadcast on Palestinian Authority television, in which he called for the development of a modern Islamic discourse to recognise the other, to treat him with tolerance and to avoid extremism and violence. The    sermon was broadcast from the Presidency mosque in Gaza in the presence of Palestine Liberation Organisation chairman Abu Mazen. Again, no doubt, that sermon was available here in the United Kingdom. There are some positives, and considering the impact of that on community relations in the UK, we remember the positive as well as the negative.

However, extremist preaching in the minority of mosques can have a disproportionate impact. The two British men—Asif Hamif and Omar Sharif—who travelled to Mike's bar on Tel Aviv beach to blow up
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civilians were influenced by the groups al-Muhajiroun and Hizbar Tahrir. According to The Times, two British men fighting in Najaf in Iraq boasted that they had considered killing Jews in London.

The most recent figures from the Community Security Trust—the defence agency of the Jewish community, which monitors anti-Semitic incidents—shows an increase in attacks on Jews. I know that the Home Office regards the report as authentic; indeed, it is one of the official organs that they take note of in assessing what is happening to community relations. The trust's last report showed an increase in attacks on Jews. Its next report will be ready in the new year, and there is no reason to believe that the upward trend in incidents will be reversed.

It is certainly clear, whatever the specific statistics show, that hate messages and incitement have an impact on Jewish-Muslim relations in the United Kingdom. Jews feel threatened in a growing atmosphere of intolerance, in which anti-Semitism is increasingly legitimised under the cloak of anti-Zionism. Even the New Statesman felt able to produce a front cover worthy of Der Stürmer, depicting the star of David piercing a Union jack under the headline "A Kosher conspiracy?" The journal apologised and stated that it was not aware that the front page reflected Nazi imagery.

What should be done to deal with these matters and their impact on community relations in the United Kingdom? I recognise the Government's good work in addressing anti-Semitism. They take the issue seriously and have supported calls for action at the United Nations and elsewhere. When I have raised this problem before, my points have been taken very seriously indeed, and I thank the Government for that. However, further action is required from a wider group than the Government acting alone.

Incitement to hate should stop. It is propagated by a small minority of Muslims who are speaking in a perversion of their faith. I am conscious that many Muslim leaders speak out against incitement, and I hope that they will continue to do so, because it is extremely important that moderates do not feel that they are standing alone. The actions of the 2,500 Muslim intellectuals from 23 countries who complained to the United Nations Security Council about extremists have set a good precedent, which I hope will be followed worldwide, including in this country.

Anti-Semitism must be challenged, whatever its source. Messages of hate should not be tolerated, whether their source is the British National party or Islamicist groups, and the left must end its dangerous flirtation with Islamic extremism. I congratulate the police on arresting the British National party leader, Nick Griffin, as reported yesterday. It is encouraging to know how seriously they are taking this problem.

At a recent Foreign Office Eid celebration, the chairman of the Muslim Council of Britain made a statement suggesting that the Iraq war was started to serve the interests of Zionists. There are many perfectly legitimate views on the war with Iraq, including strong opposition to it, but that sort of statement is unacceptable. The implication is that British and American foreign policy is dictated by the Jews—a tiny proportion of the world's population. Do the Government intend to challenge the statement if they have not already done so?
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The recommendations of the European monitoring centre on racism and xenophobia must be followed, and incitement from the media must be monitored and controlled. Its report entitled "Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in the European Union" demonstrated that a correlation exists between anti-Jewish violence and rhetoric in the United Kingdom and events in the middle east.

An investigation into al-Manar, conducted by the French broadcasting authority on 19 November, resulted in an agreement allowing it to stay on the airwaves provided that it did not broadcast any hate messages that depicted violence towards civilian populations in a favourable light. After al-Manar continued to broadcast anti-Semitic programmes, the French Prime Minister called for a total ban. Only yesterday, France's highest administrative court ordered the French-based satellite company, Eutelsat, to stop broadcasting al-Manar within 48 hours. That followed a broadcast in which Israel was accused of deliberately disseminating AIDS in Arab nations. Predictably, al-Manar issued a statement claiming that the ban was the result of Israeli pressure following a political campaign by the Zionist lobby.

I applaud the example that was set in France. Our Government are considering monitoring incitement, and I ask them to look closely at what happened in France and to follow its very important example by banning anti-Semitic incitement and stations that incite violence.

Our existing laws on incitement should be enforced, and purveyors of hate, such as Sheikh Qaradawi, should not be admitted to this country. I ask the Home Office to examine more closely some of the applications that are submitted to it and to stop people coming to this country who are likely to incite.

I secured an Adjournment debate on this issue on 31 January 2003 as a wake-up call to urge people to recognise the pernicious phenomenon of Arab anti-Semitism, which goes largely unchallenged. Too many people still refuse to recognise this cancer, despite the mounting evidence. It draws on anti-Semitic imagery from the crusades to Nazi Germany. The deadly fusion of 1930s-style anti-Semitism, with its demonisation of the Jewish community, is now moving beyond the realm of polemics and is manifesting itself on the streets.

I called this debate to bring all this to the attention of hon. Members. It is time to drain this poison from our body politic.

9.51 am

Mr. James Clappison (Hertsmere) (Con): It is a great pleasure to follow the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs. Ellman). I warmly congratulate her on securing a very important debate. It is tradition on these occasions for Opposition Members to say that we agree with much of what has been said. In this case, I agree with every word that the hon. Lady said, and I strongly support her calls to the Government, particularly in respect of satellite broadcasting, al-Manar and individuals such as Sheikh Qaradawi who are admitted to this country.

The hon. Lady tackled the subject in an appropriately sensitive way. It is a sensitive subject, but one that calls on us to face facts. For the record, I share her approach.
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Although the Jewish community is facing particular pressure at the moment—there is, as she said, a rise in anti-Semitic attacks—other communities also face those problems. I share her sentiments about the Muslim community. I recognise the pressures faced by Muslims in this country, and I deplore some of the things that I have read recently about the Muslim faith, which are careless or, even worse, misrepresent that faith and are highly offensive. I share the feelings of many Muslims when they read and hear some of the comments that are made.

In that spirit, I was concerned, immediately after September 11th, that the dreadful events of that day might spill over into the lives of ordinary Muslims and that, by extension, it might be taken out on them in some way. Thankfully, that did not happen, but I certainly shared their concern.

As a member of the Select Committee on Home Affairs, which is taking evidence on community relations, I was interested recently to listen to the evidence of Gerry Gable, the well known proprietor of Searchlight and a well known figure in these matters. He made the entirely reasonable point that there was a risk of the Muslim community's being victimised after September 11th:

He then set out what he believed the problem to be. I agreed with much of what he said.

We must recognise that the Jewish community is vulnerable, particularly to the sort of international tensions that the hon. Lady described. We can all have our views on the middle east and the different Governments and authorities there but, whatever our views, wherever they are on the spectrum, we should not extend them so far as to victimise individuals and to import the conflict into everyday life with incitement, attacks and victimisation of individuals as a proxy for the dispute itself.

We should not allow that to happen on any side, but there is clear evidence that it is happening at least in some countries in Europe. We have to face facts. The OSCE report to which the hon. Lady referred was right to recognise that and to see the facts as they are. Others have carried out investigations that have come to the same conclusions. We all know about the problem of the extreme right wing. We cannot be complacent there. We must recognise that there is the other problem of the importation of the middle eastern conflict and consequent anti-Semitic attacks on communities and individuals.

I saw some of what is happening elsewhere in Europe when, in the company of Lord Janner, I visited Paris earlier this year. I saw with my own eyes almost   unbelievable evidence of the harassment and persecution that ordinary people in the Jewish community, particularly young people, face every day. We visited a school that had been burnt down and met school children who suffer a daily torrent of abuse and bullying on their way to school. They hear the words "sale juif". We heard that they were frightened to wear their religious signs—to wear a kippah—and that they
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take steps to disguise their appearance. When Lord Janner asked how many of them saw their future in France, the vast majority replied that, although they were French in culture and language, they wanted to leave France and to make their future elsewhere because of what they experience every day.

That is not just the case in France. I am afraid to say that there are other countries in Europe where similar experiences are being suffered by young people in schools and universities. Children are victimised. There are some instances of grave attacks on individuals. It is a problem. Having mentioned France, I should give credit to the French Government for the way that they have faced up to that. They have not tried to sweep the problem under the carpet. They have set a lead and mobilised the resources of the state. As the hon. Lady said, they have been particularly strong on banning inflammatory broadcasts from abroad. I hope that we are prepared to follow the French Government down that route.

The problem is not of the French Government's making. The explanation for it may lie in the origins of the communities in France, but it is repeated elsewhere in Europe. Although it is not repeated to anything like the same extent in this country, there are no grounds for complacency. It is worrying that anti-Semitic attacks in this country have increased. We need to watch that very carefully. When individuals and communities are being victimised in order to extend the middle eastern conflict, it is particularly worrying that, in this country today, in perhaps some of the most sensitive places of all—our universities—some academics are coming dangerously close to encouraging something similar.

Of course, academics can have vigorous views about Israel. They can hold conferences about it. They can hold a wide variety of views and they should have the freedom to express those views as far as they wish to express them, but it goes a worrying stage further when academics, including those at some of our most prestigious universities, call for a boycott of individuals because they happen to come from the state of Israel. I suspect that it is not far from that to encouraging individual victimisation.

Academics who have been going along that path should exercise their consciences, to say the least, and think about where it may lead. I say that it is worrying; it is also counter-productive. In one case, an academic dismissed two contributors to her journal purely because they were Israeli. However, they were also critics of the Government of Israel's policy and very much on the left wing in Israeli terms.

That is worrying and I do not want it to happen in our universities. It is not fair and it damages our academic reputation internationally. It is also worrying from the point of view of individual Jewish students in universities, who from time to time have had problems of their own, particularly when dealing with organisations such as al-Muhajiroun.

I do not know whether the Minister can comment on what I have said, but I hope that she will respond in some way. Although we must preserve freedom of speech in our universities, we do not want academics to give the wrong lead and to go down a road that could be very worrying indeed.
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I join the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside in all the sentiments that she expressed and I support her calls for action, particularly on satellite broadcasting. We must consider that carefully. She was right to say that some of the material is horrific. It is fair to say, as she did, that there are those in the Muslim community who have taken a stand and acted in accordance with the true tenets of the Muslim faith. However, it is very worrying when a stream of filthy propaganda, possibly affecting impressionable minds, is coming through a medium that people take seriously and give credit to. I hope that the Minister will respond in a way that meets the seriousness of the problem.

10.2 am

Linda Perham (Ilford, North) (Lab): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs. Ellman) on securing the debate. She is a staunch defender of Jewish people and often speaks up for Israel in the media. I should declare that I am on the parliamentary executive of Labour Friends of Israel and I am the secretary of the all-party group on Israel. I represent a constituency in the London borough of Redbridge that is home to 15,000 Jews and has a growing south Asian population of Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans, who are of the Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist and Christian faiths.

We had an excellent debate here on 20 April, led by my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (James Purnell), in which thoughtful contributions were made. On that occasion, I and other hon. Members said that the debate was timely because of the rise of anti-Semitism. There were 375 anti-Semitic attacks last year—a 7 per cent. increase on 2002. Somewhat depressingly, discussion of anti-Semitism always seems to be timely, because it continues to exist, as it has done for hundreds of years in this country and beyond.

When I take people on tours of the Palace of Westminster and we come to Westminster Hall, I tell them about its history. It often comes up that coronation banquets used to be held there. The first was held in 1189 for the coronation of Richard I. On that occasion, Jews bearing handsome gifts were denied entry to the Hall and pelted by mobs. The story was circulated that the king wanted them exterminated, so a series of massacres ensued. The following year, 150 were massacred in York. Throughout the 13th century, various cities and towns mounted attacks on Jews or expelled them. In 1218, the wearing of a Jewish badge was introduced. In 1290, an edict by Edward I expelled England's 16,500 Jews, who did not return as a community until the time of Cromwell in 1656. There is a long history of anti-Semitism in this country.

We all know and condemn the worst example of anti-Semitism: the holocaust. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Riverside spoke about holocaust denial, and the comparison of Jews to Nazis is also common. The star of David is often linked with the swastika in cartoons and the suggestion is made that the Jews engineered the holocaust to secure a Jewish state. As recently as 28 August this year, the Egyptian television station al-Mihwar broadcast a group of politicians and journalists discussing the connection between Zionists and Nazis and drawing parallels between the Nazi genocide and Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.
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I shall never forget my visit five years ago to Auschwitz-Birkenau with 200 school students, including some from two of my local schools. More people should visit that place, especially young people, to be reminded of the obscenity and evil of that most extreme manifestation of anti-Semitism, and to learn about the unacceptability of tolerating it.

I cannot emphasise enough the role of education in combating and challenging anti-Semitism. That is why I   praise the work of the Holocaust Educational Trust and the efforts of such organisations as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting—FAIR—and Palestine Media Watch, which monitor the publication and propagation of anti-Semitic literature in the UK and elsewhere.

As has been mentioned, the media's influence has    grown over the years and, recently, satellite communication has been used more to propagate anti-Semitism. Those who control the media have a huge responsibility to achieve balance and fairness in reporting. My Jewish constituents often complain to me about anti-Semitic bias, particularly in television reports about the middle east conflict.

Television and films, with their powerful imagery, can achieve widespread impact. I therefore welcome the recent release of Michael Radford's version of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", with the distinguished actor Al Pacino, who gives a sensitive portrayal of Shylock, and the debate that the film has provoked about anti-Semitism today, as well as in the Shakespearean era.

As I mentioned, I represent racially and religiously diverse communities in London that, through the hard work and good will of community groups, the safer communities partnership and individuals, manage to coexist peacefully and to thrive. We have a local three faith group of Jews, Muslims and Christians, a council of Christians and Jews that has been in existence for 62 years, and an annual Hanukkah-Eid-Christmas event celebrated at the Ilford community centre and organised by members of the League of British Muslims. I shall be attending that event tonight and telling the people there about this debate. I shall be there with community and religious leaders from other communities.

Despite the real and continuing challenges in the UK posed by the resurgence of anti-Semitism and the dangers that it raises, as well as post-9/11 Islamophobia, I am hopeful that the example of my community is not an isolated one and that people of good will of all races, religions and cultures will see their futures and that of the country as based on a foundation of tolerance and understanding of other people, regardless of creed or colour. However, I should like the Minister's reassurance that the Government will be vigilant about anti-Semitism, monitor it and take robust action to combat and to challenge it wherever it rears its ugly head. As I have demonstrated, anti-Semitism has a long history. We all need to make the effort to fight such evil, otherwise it will continue to poison race and community relations in this country and elsewhere and be a lasting obstacle to peace in the middle east.

10.9 am

Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore) (Lab): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs. Ellman) on securing this important debate on
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anti-Semitism. I also congratulate her and others on emphasising the need for balance by stressing that hatred of any race, any religion or any group is abhorrent. I declare an interest, as a member of Labour Friends of Israel and as a regular participant in activities with Palestinian groups.

At the outset, it is important to declare as a universal principle the opposition of any right-minded people to discrimination, bigotry and irrational hatred of any group of people, whether on the grounds of religion, ethnicity, colour of skin or the colour of money—economic means. The confluence of agreement of all Members of Parliament must be to abhor actions or words that lead to derision, damage or the death of individuals or groups.

Today, we are challenging anti-Semitism, yet all the words that I have spoken could equally apply to Islamophobia. Since 11 September 2001, Islamophobia has become a major concern and it must be condemned in the strongest terms. Equally, however, anti-Semitism is an insidious poison that pollutes rational discourse in the media and in the street, and hampers understanding between people as individuals and between groups. It can lead to violence in words and action against Jews.

It is of grave concern that anti-Semitism, a phenomenon that many people thought had been confined to history—rendered impossible by the horrors of the holocaust—seems to have a nasty habit of coming back. It is like some perennial weed; it does not necessarily come back in the same place or in the same form, but it has the power to reproduce itself seemingly endlessly.

This morning, it has been shocking to hear some of the examples that have been given, and to hear that many anti-Semitic myths, which trace their lineage from mediaeval Europe to tsarist Russia, persist—that Jews are conspiratorial, or that they have disproportionate control over world events. Even the bloodthirsty fantasies regarding Passover bread, which I find too abhorrent to mention again this morning, are repeated often abroad and, regrettably, closer to home as well.

That is not to suggest that any criticism of the Israeli state or the Israeli Government is out of bounds. Such criticism should be made, but it should never be wrapped up in terms that could be construed as anti-Semitic.

The fact that such poisonous ideas can be circulated and, moreover, that they have transmuted to some within the Arab world—a culture in which, until very recently, such ideas were completely alien—is the example par excellence of the ability of fear and ignorance to overcome reasoned and rational thought. Those deviant ideas are espoused only by a minority, but their power lies not in the numbers that espouse them, but in their sheer toxicity and perniciousness.

In this era of globalisation, as we have heard, that discourse of hate can cross borders at literally the speed of light. The incitement to violence shown on television and on internet sites from Lebanon or Saudi Arabia can quickly find its way on to computers and television screens in the UK. It is even more worrying when local extremist groups, which are by no means representative of the majority, pick up that message and echo it through the media and institutions in the UK.
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Fortunately, however, we are not powerless to act in that area and it is imperative that we do so. Lasting peace between Israel and the Arab world and between their peoples will be impossible without a recognition of the role of incitement in generating hatred and enmity in the public at large.

The quest for harmonious relations in the UK cannot be separated from the way in which we approach international affairs. In suggesting ways of engaging with the problem, I shall refer, first, to the declaration of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and, secondly, to the role of the G8 as we approach the transfer of its presidency to the UK.

The OSCE has become the chief international organisation active in the field of anti-Semitism in Europe. As hon. Members may know, a landmark conference took place in Vienna in spring 2003 and it was followed by another in Berlin in April 2004. The Berlin conference produced the Berlin declaration, which compelled all member states to undertake eight   commitments to combat anti-Semitism in their countries.

Those commitments include provisions such as ensuring that legal systems foster an environment safe   from anti-Semitism—something from which I am sure the UK does not suffer—and collecting and maintaining   reliable information and statistics about anti-Semitism and other hate crimes. That is an area where I believe there could be some improvement. Effective implementation of those commitments would contribute enormously to the struggle to eradicate anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and racism of all kinds. The United Kingdom must stay at the forefront of that battle.

I should be grateful to hear from the Minister what   action has been taken by the Home Office to act on the commitments signed by the OSCE. In particular, I should be interested to know to what extent the Home Office has co-operated with the Foreign Office on the issue. As we have heard in this debate, the problem of anti-Semitic incitement in the UK cannot be detached from the international perspective, nor can it be tackled without taking a global perspective. Therefore, what can the Minister tell us about the co-operation between Departments on monitoring the flow of incitement and on taking action to stem it? As we know, the resolution of the middle east peace process is high on this Government's agenda, which is a great tribute to the Government and to the Prime Minister in particular. I should be interested to know what place on the agenda tackling incitement has.

With regard to the G8, clearly, reform in the Arab media and the desire to stem the rhetoric emanating from a minority of Arab states regarding Israel and Jews are not isolated issues. There are many in the Arab world who seek reform of all kinds—political, social or economic. Political reform and a positive approach to the west is naturally coupled with a reconciliation of the existence of a Jewish state in the middle east and acceptance of the peace process.

However, certain parts of the Arab world seem to be faced with a choice between embracing reform and remaining where they are. The status quo is tied up with
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the view that the values of the west and of the state of Israel are not to be accepted. So long as that view exists, the underlying cause of anti-Semitic incitement will remain. I do not underestimate the challenge that that poses for progressive Arab nations and leaders, let alone those who may be more reluctant to confront radical ideologies that deny the existence of Israel. However, that challenge must be met.

Over the past two years, the G8, the EU and NATO have placed political reform and democratisation on the middle east agenda. Currently, Israel and Turkey are the only democratic states in the region. There has been internal pressure for reform and democracy from nationalists, secular liberals and some Islamists, but they have not yet generally met with major reform.

The G8 Sea Island summit in June 2004 resulted in a G8 plan for reform, which included supporting efforts to develop democracy and to ensure free and transparent elections; assisting the region in judicial reforms; supporting efforts to reinforce freedom of expression and independent media; supporting countries interested in reform of education; supporting efforts to expand women's participation; and strengthening the role of civil society and non-governmental organisations.

The pressure for long-term reform must, we all acknowledge, come from within, from Arab people and Arab leaders. It must be reform that reflects the culture and priorities of the region, but reform there must be. With a view to tackling a major source of anti-Semitic incitement, will the Minister impress on colleagues in all    Departments, including the Foreign Office, the importance of reform in the Arab world, which will assist in the campaign to stem the flow of anti-western, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic rhetoric at home? The Palestinian Authority are currently setting a fine example to the rest of the Arab world about the value of democratically electing a leadership with public support and public accountability. It is no coincidence that that has coincided with a dramatic and positive change of tone in referring to the west and Israel in official media. That is to be applauded. It signifies a clear willingness to challenge anti-Semitism and in so doing to work towards greater mutual understanding and a peaceful accord among the people of the region.

In conclusion, I call on the Minister to tell us what monitoring is being done and what action is being taken at home in line with the OSCE Berlin declaration, and to say what co-ordination there will be with the Foreign Office to ensure that, in forums such as the G8, that aspect of the need for reform is not passed over.

10.20 am

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD): I, too, congratulate the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs. Ellman) on securing the debate and the hon. Members for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison), for Ilford, North (Linda Perham), and for Ogmore (Huw Irranca-Davies) on their well informed and extremely pertinent contributions. This debate is a natural continuation of a similar debate on 20 April, and it is all the more valuable for that.

Hon. Members stressed the domestic context of a worrying rise in anti-Semitic behaviour and activity, which, although it is not yet of epidemic proportions, is something we should be very aware of. They also put it
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in an international context. That is equally worrying, because the anti-Semitic activity in this country is mirrored by similar events in our near neighbours in western Europe. I am extremely pleased that at last there is international recognition that we have a problem that needs to be addressed.

The hon. Members for Liverpool, Riverside and for Ogmore mentioned the OSCE declaration. I am a representative on the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE and I am extremely proud of what it has done on the issue. It takes its remit of security and co-operation in Europe extremely seriously in recognising that this is an internal threat that needs to be addressed if we are to maintain the security of our continent. The United Nations resolution was mentioned; it is a first in that respect and it is very welcome.

There is also the historical context. We like to think that we are a broadly tolerant country, and it is sometimes useful to remind ourselves that it was not always so and that tolerance may have had its limitations. Undoubtedly, there have been some appalling acts against certain communities in this country, and the Jewish community has regularly been the victim of such attacks through the centuries. It is valuable that we remind ourselves of that.

There are probably three elements to the anti-Semitic attitudes that have been displayed in this country over recent years. First, the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside stressed the threat from elements—it is important to say "elements"—within the Muslim community. That is a relatively recent but serious development in our community relations.

Secondly, there is what might be described as the "traditional" far right—those who base their politics on prejudice, hate and ignorance. They have been with us for a long time, but they never represent mainstream political thought. Nevertheless, they can be extremely damaging in their activities and in the thoughts that they instil in others.

Thirdly—this is the most reprehensible group—some elements, who would describe themselves as being of the left, are prepared to go along with that degree of anti-Semitism because it suits their present political purposes. Again, it is not entirely new. When I was a student union president in the 1970s, university student unions tried to deny Jewish societies a platform. Those of us who spoke out against it often found ourselves isolated. It is not new, but it has become more prevalent, particularly in the context of the Iraq war and of the   situation in the middle east. It has achieved a respectability that it does not deserve, and we must confront it and challenge it at every opportunity.

The link with the middle east is entirely spurious. Of course, people have strong opinions about the world situation and what is happening in middle eastern politics. Some may be critical of the Government of Israel, but not for one moment do they have an excuse—and no cause or pretext—for extending their criticism to expressions of hatred against people who happen to be of a certain ethnic origin.

Mrs. Lorna Fitzsimons (Rochdale) (Lab): Will the hon. Gentleman join me in saying that, to be against anti-Semitism, and therefore in favour of supporting the   freedom of religious and cultural expression of
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Jewish people wherever they may be, is not inimical to supporting the same rights for other religions? Will he condemn those who say that one cannot be a friend of Islam or the Muslim community in Britain if one supports the Jewish right of freedom of expression? We should fight anti-Semitism just as much as we would fight Islamophobia.

Mr. Heath : The hon. Lady is absolutely right. I shall be making that point in categoric terms. Either we are talking about respect for all communities and all faiths, or we are talking about respect for none. That is a key part of the argument.

Several hon. Members have already said that it is possible to be politically critical of the actions of the state of Israel and not be anti-Semitic. We need to make that important distinction. However, it is easy to blur the edges of expressions of political opinion into a wider area of discrimination. We must be careful that it does not happen. Those who talk blithely about a Jewish lobby, whether in America or here, are pandering to that expression of anti-Semitism, rather than genuinely engaging with the political argument.

It is a truism, but it needs to be restated, that all forms of hatred and discrimination must be challenged and confronted wherever they occur. Those of us who, on occasion, express views critical of what is happening in the middle east need to be particularly careful of those with whom we share platforms, discussions or demonstrations who extend that criticism in a way that indicates discrimination against the Jewish community. We must say that they are wrong and must withdraw their remarks, or they will be no friend of ours.

What can we do to combat anti-Semitism? Some suggestions have already been made. Education is a key factor—it always is. The best way to fight discrimination is to educate and to debate. It should not be swept into the corner as an embarrassment that should not be discussed; it should be confronted full-frontedly. We must take a robust attitude. We must come together to address the problem.

The cant saying after 9/11 was that we should stand   shoulder to shoulder with the Americans. Yes, we   should. I have huge criticisms of the American Government and the way in which they have prosecuted their foreign policy. Nevertheless, we stand shoulder to   shoulder with them on terrorism. Similarly, we should stand shoulder to shoulder with any community in this country that feels threatened by discrimination or   prejudice. That is what brings our communities together.

Then there is the legal framework. I sometimes worry that existing powers are not sufficiently used. I know that the power to prosecute has been used, and that some prosecutions have been well publicised. However, as hon. Members have said, violently anti-Semitic posters have been displayed at demonstrations, with no evidence that anybody has been prosecuted for depicting such views. When that happens, people will be concerned, and there should be no need for them to be. As the Minister knows, my party urged—before the event—that an aggravated crime be associated with racially and otherwise motivated hatred, and we should make use of such provisions frequently.

The hon. Member for Ogmore asked whether we keep records of such incidents outside the Metropolitan police area. My hon. Friend the Member for Orkney
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and Shetland (Mr. Carmichael) raised the same point in a previous debate. The Metropolitan police have been particularly good at keeping such records, but does the   practice extend to other police force areas? Are there similar arrangements in Merseyside, Greater Manchester, the west midlands and other areas with significant Jewish communities? Do they, indeed, extend to areas without significant Jewish communities? That is equally important.

I will not say that my constituency is mono-ethnic, because we are either little Saxons or little Celts, but we   do not have large immigrant communities that are   identified by virtue of their religion or race. Nevertheless, isolated individuals may still be subjected to discriminatory behaviour. We must all ensure, therefore, that we are vigilant in areas where the potential to lose sight of such issues is that much greater. I should be grateful if the Minister told us what has been done to record hate crimes and racially or religiously motivated crimes.

As regards incitement to hatred, the hon. Member for Ogmore and others talked about the internet and the media. As we know, it is difficult to regulate the internet, because the legal framework is weak. As regards the media, nobody in this country wants proper discourse to   be censored, but we are entitled to look at the accreditation of media sources whose broadcasts spew out hate. We can then see whether they are indeed welcome guests on these shores, or whether there is evidence of their having produced material that would constitute criminal behaviour had it been produced in this country. The Home Office needs to consider that.

We shall have a complicated debate on religious hatred in the context of the Serious and Organised Crime Bill, and there are all sorts of pros and cons. The Minister knows that, although I have sympathy with what the Home Office is trying to do, I shall want to ensure that we have the freedom to profess faith and to engage in critical discourse, even about the activities and modus operandi of different faiths. That is proper in a civilised country—just as it is to ridicule faith, on occasion. We must, however, be careful to ensure that those who use religion as a cover for incitement to racial hatred are not allowed to prosper.

There was mention earlier of the difficulties experienced by Jewish people in France, and the French Government have issued one of the strongest messages on the issue. They have really taken it seriously, and I should like to think that we could do the same. If we do, however, all political parties will have to come together, excluding those who will have none of it. We shall have to make common cause with those elements of the media that are prepared to take our message forward. We must clearly state that we are talking about not only anti-Semitism but hatred based on race or religion. An attack on any community on the basis of faith or race is an attack on all our communities, and all our communities need to stand together.

Mr. Clappison : The hon. Gentleman has given me an opportunity to reinforce what I said earlier. Is he aware of the lead that was given by President Chirac in his recent speech at Le Chambon in response to atrocities against Jews and Jewish monuments, and does he agree
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that, while we want to see the same approach in this country, we cannot criticise the attitude of the present Government?

Mr. Heath : The hon. Gentleman makes an extremely powerful point, with which I entirely concur. I look forward to hearing from the Minister in due course.

10.35 am

Mr. Dominic Grieve (Beaconsfield) (Con): The hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs. Ellman) has done us a service in raising these issues. She was right to do so, because they are difficult issues for all the main political parties. We are rather too hesitant about confronting some aspects of anti-Semitism and other general expressions of hatred in our society.

The point was well made that anti-Semitism has a long history in Britain; it goes back to mediaeval times. There is the evidence of pogroms, as the hon. Member for Ilford, North (Linda Perham) said. However, we should not get carried away with history. From the late 18th century onwards, this country has provided a tremendous haven for Jewish people. My Jewish forebears came here in the early 19th century, and most   of them prospered. The Jewish community has prospered to such an extent that, as we know, it is the only community in Britain that has never asked for ethnic monitoring. It has always accepted that its success within British society is so great that it is not necessary.

The evidence is overwhelming. Anti-Semitism, which was present in some forms in the 19th century and right through our history, was on the decline, particularly after the second world war, but it has started to rise again in recent years. We also know that, because of assimilation, the choice made by my Jewish forebears in the middle of the 19th century, the Jewish community in Britain is shrinking as an identifiable group. That is a matter of concern to the Chief Rabbi. We must hope that it does not disappear, because we would lose an important cultural asset in our society. The idea, therefore, that the Jewish presence in Britain constitutes some conspiracy or subversion towards others is laughable.

Of course, there are some who are anti-Semitic—one comes across people with all sorts of contorted psychological perspectives in all communities—and I fear that we will never get rid of them, but the blunt truth is that the rise of the current anti-Semitism, about which the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside rightly expresses concern, appears to have an Islamic perspective to it. We cannot get away from that. It seems to have been fuelled by a growing hatred and anger towards Jews, Judaism and the state of Israel, which has grown over a 20-year period with tremendous corrosive force and is principally manifested within the Islamic community.

That is a bit of a challenge for all of us. The mainstream political parties represented in this Room are all making efforts to integrate members of the Islamic community in Britain into mainstream political life. As my party's diversity spokesman, I spend a great deal of my time visiting mosques and seeing the Muslim Council of Britain. I meet large numbers of people who treat me with infinite courtesy and kindness. However,
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I have to face up to the fact that some of the underlying problems identified by the hon. Lady are not confined to   mad extremists who manifest themselves in the street   outside Finsbury Park mosque. They extend rather further—to an atmosphere of such frustration and, if not necessarily hatred, concern about events, particularly in the middle east, that it colours the viewpoint of a larger section of the Islamic community, which provides a moral cushion and justification in which the extremists can live. That is a problem for us.

The problem was highlighted when Sheikh Qaradawi came to this country. His visit, as the hon. Lady may remember, was authorised by the Government, who could have taken steps to exclude him. After the leader of my party expressed concern that he had been let in, I was struck by the number of phone calls I received from Muslims whom I had dealt with over the previous two years expressing concern about what the leader of my party said. They said that Sheikh Qaradawi was a force for good and was not calling for the extinction of the state of Israel. However, one has only to look at what he has said to see that he is part of the corrosive process by which hatred is put into the hearts of large numbers of people and warps all their judgments and sensibilities.

Exactly the same thing happened in Nazi Germany in the 1920s, 1930s and even before the Nazis came to power, when grievances real and imagined entered the hearts of individuals and were fomented by propaganda into raw hatred of other classes of people. That phenomenon is not confined to the middle east; it can be achieved in any human society if the conditions are right.

Are we confronting the problem? Of course, we do not want to offend people, but I sometimes think that we are failing to engage in a sufficiently robust dialogue. The Mayor of London, a member of the hon. Lady's party, had no difficulty sharing a platform with Sheikh Qaradawi. I do not suggest in any way that he wants to foment hatred, but he seemed to have a distorted sense of priorities and understanding about what Sheikh Qaradawi had been saying.

Mrs. Ellman : Does the hon. Gentleman recall that I   strongly opposed both the Government's decision to permit Sheikh Qaradawi to enter this country and the Mayor of London's decision to invite him, which was deplorable and extremely damaging to community relations?

Mr. Grieve : Of course, I am well aware of the stand that the hon. Lady took, which was absolutely right. I   am not trying to condemn the Mayor of London outright, because I suspect that he was well intentioned. However, I am worried that, in our efforts to be well intentioned and to appeal to communities, saying, "We understand you, so please get involved with us"—after all, the three parties represented here are in competition—we are in danger of missing the point. Unless we are prepared to engage in robust discourse about what constitutes the foundations of democratic society, we are encouraging the notion that people can participate in democratic society while holding views that are positively incompatible with it.

That is one of the big challenges that all three parties must face up to. It is difficult because none of us wishes to be discourteous or to isolate people, but that is the
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raw reality behind the points made so tellingly by my hon. Friend the Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison) about what goes on in the Jewish community and how even academics jump on the bandwagon and join the corrosive process of encouraging hatred. Responsibility lies with us.

I do not want to get involved too much in the question of the law. I may be shadow Attorney-General as well as diversity spokesman, but this is a debate on incitement to religious hatred. However, the laws to protect the Jewish community, which the Government want to extend to other faith groups, already exist, yet have not prevented the problems that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside identified. Indeed, some messages that arrive by broadcast media from abroad are completely outside the control of prosecution, unless the person responsible happens to arrive in this country.

The attempt to get around such problems through legislation will not work; in fact, although it may be well intentioned, I believe that it will make things worse. Many of the things that the hon. Lady identified, even leaving aside incitement to racial hatred, are already serious criminal offences, but enforcement of the law is difficult. Although enforcement of the law should undoubtedly be emphasised, it is not the entire solution to the problem.

The solution must lie with us, as a political class. Are we prepared to confront such issues properly? Mindful of the competition between us, are we willing to engage, to say what we consider acceptable and unacceptable and to make it clear what participation in a democratic society involves? If we are prepared to do that, we may turn the tide; if we are not, we will face serious and growing problems. As individuals, we cannot solve the problems of the middle east. The problems are largely outside our control, although we may try to contribute to a solution.

That is the challenge for us. It will require us to ask difficult questions of ourselves and of those towards whom we would in other circumstances wish to be conciliatory. The point was well made that the French Government have been extremely proactive, at an official level, in challenging such matters. I am not yet sure that we have done the same. More can be done.

Finding a solution is a matter not of legislation but of us all coming together to make it clear that the achievement of the common good in this country requires a foundation of tolerance and that we will not pander to those who wish to express intolerance simply because we might think that that intolerance may have some rational foundation. The foundation may be rational but, if we go down the road of intolerance, we will be responsible for creating the people who put graffiti on buildings, try to burn down schools or attack synagogues. Of course, exactly the same applies to Islamophobia. I therefore hope that the Minister will provide as much help and guidance on those issues as on legislation.

10.48 am

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Caroline Flint) : I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs. Ellman) on securing this debate. I also welcome the presence of my hon. Friends the Members for Ilford,
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North (Linda Perham), for Ogmore (Huw Irranca-Davies), for Rochdale (Mrs. Fitzsimons) and for Eastwood (Mr. Murphy), the hon. Member for Hertsmere (Mr. Clappison) and the two Front-Bench spokesmen, the hon. Members for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve) and for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath), in this interesting and constructive debate on an important issue.

To pick up a point that the hon. Member for Beaconsfield made, I would not say that the law is the    only answer in tackling anti-Semitism in our community, but just one measure. We must first acknowledge what is happening out there in our communities. That has been clearly illustrated today. Sometimes, we have to specify particular offences that are to do with particular outrages and instances of discrimination against certain groups. Only in that way can we have a discussion about exactly what anti-Semitism means, how it manifests itself and what its impact on communities is. Sometimes, general offences of incitement do not necessarily allow for the exposure of that debate or for clarity about what we are talking about.

The Government have a strong record. I hope that people agree that we use a combination that includes a strong legal framework, which we keep under review. The solution is tackling extremism and educating young people. I remind hon. Members that there is now a statutory requirement, as part of the school curriculum, to teach about the holocaust. We cannot be complacent. As each new generation is born, we must ensure that we reinvest in their knowledge and understanding of what has happened, what is happening and the dangers that might happen unless we deal with these serious matters.

The Home Office is encouraging inter-communal and inter-faith dialogue and supports the annual holocaust memorial day. I am pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Riverside has recently been selected as a trustee of the trust. I congratulate her on that and I know that she will play a constructive and important role.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore raised the international situation. We are active at international level. He mentioned the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe conferences on anti-Semitism; the relationship between racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic propaganda on the internet and hate crimes; and racism, intolerance and xenophobia. We support the conferences' recommendation that three personal representatives should advise on intolerance issues, and we plan to donate to the joint fund to make that a   reality. The Home Office is an official part of the Foreign   and Commonwealth Office-led delegation that participated in those conferences.

My hon. Friend talked about democracy as well, and that was picked up by other hon. Members. Democracy is, of course, important and I was pleased that he acknowledged that we were making progress in relation to, for example, the Palestinian elections. I understand that there was a positive atmosphere at the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting in Oslo on 8 December, attended by Palestinian and Israeli representatives, who all spoke of encouraging political signs and an emerging opportunity. We also hope to have democratic elections
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in Iraq before too long, which will allow that country, after years of dictatorship, to have a democracy. That is very important.

At home, we are developing within the Home Office, in discussion with other Departments and non-governmental organisations, our emerging race equality and community cohesion strategy, which will set the direction for further Government action to develop a    cohesive British society that is characterised by integration, celebrates diversity, looks at what shared values we have across race and religious backgrounds, believes in equal opportunities and rejects extremism, racism and anti-Semitism.

We must have tough legislation, too. The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 introduced nine racially aggravated offences. Offences such as assault and criminal damage attract a higher maximum penalty if they are racially motivated. Since 2001, increased penalties have also applied to religiously aggravated offences. Hon. Members will be aware that incitement to racial hatred is an offence under Part III of the Public Order Act 1986. That makes it unlawful to use threatening, abusive or   insulting words or behaviour with the intention or likelihood of stirring up racial hatred. The offence applies to incitement of hatred against Jews and Sikhs, because case law has established that they constitute racial groups under the law.

In 2001, we increased the maximum penalty for incitement from two to seven years and extended the incitement offence to include hatred of racial groups abroad, which would include inciting hatred of Israelis.   There have been convictions, such as that of Mr. El-Faisal, who was sentenced to two years for racial incitement, plus seven years for incitement to murder. We are now proposing to extend protection against incited hatred of other religious groups, and we think that that will build on the measures currently available under the racial hatred offences that I have just mentioned.

I know that we shall debate that in the Committee that considers the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill, but the Association of Chief Police Officers made it clear that it felt that, despite the legislation currently available, the police were unable to act against the sort of hate where religion was a factor, such as the disturbances in northern towns in 2001 directed against Muslims. That formed part of their evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Religious Offences.

There are other ways in which the Government are actively addressing extremism. Ministers of religion have a crucial role in helping minority communities to engage with British society, combating distortion of religion and strengthening community cohesion. To fulfil that role, ministers of religion need to be able to communicate with their congregation, especially the younger generation, and to understand British society and our values of tolerance. That is why in the summer we introduced a requirement for people who wish to come to the UK from abroad to work as a minister of religion to speak basic English. We are also consulting about whether, post-entry, they should have a minimum level of civic knowledge and community engagement.

In addition, we are committed to supporting leadership training for faith leaders already settled here. That will build on the expertise developed in the faith
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leaders management training programme for imams and community leaders piloted in 2004 by the Learning and Skills Council. However, it is important to understand that the Government make a clear distinction between extremist individuals and the faith that they might claim to be associated with or to represent.

My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Riverside and the hon. Member for Hertsmere spoke about issues and views relating to the state of Israel. Expressions of hatred of Jewish people, let alone attacks on persons and property, are simply unacceptable. Criticisms of a foreign Government's policies cannot be used to justify such behaviour. Many communities in this country have strong affiliations with states overseas, which is quite proper, and there is a place for legitimate democratic debate about domestic and international affairs, including those relating to Israel and the middle east. However, it is completely unacceptable if such criticism manifests itself in a discriminatory, threatening, harassing or violent form that is directed at people because they are Jews. I agree that boycotts on grounds of nationality in academia are objectionable and contrary to academic freedom.

In respect of exclusion, we consider all cases on their individual merits. Exclusion is a prerogative power exercised personally by the Home Secretary on behalf of the Crown. There is no right of appeal, although any decision to exclude is subject to judicial review. Exclusion is used sparingly, only after considerable thought and largely on the grounds of national security, relations with a third country and public order, although there is nothing to prevent us from excluding a person for another "non-conducive" reason.

Much has been said on broadcasting and I welcome the French decision that was taken yesterday. With regard to joined-up government, we have made specific representations to the relevant authorities in a number of cases, including that of the al-Manar television station. On a state visit to Syria in December 2003, Baroness Symons, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, called on President Bashar to deal effectively with the worrying presence of anti-Semitism in official media and schools in Syria.

As we have heard today, it seems that the television station in question was not prepared to keep to an agreement with the French authorities that was
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announced in November. As a result, the French courts ordered Eutelsat to stop transmitting al-Manar altogether within 48 hours as of yesterday afternoon. We are content that the French authorities have taken proportionate action against that television station. Eutelsat is the only satellite receivable in Europe that carries it, so if Eutelsat stops transmitting the channel, it will not be receivable in the United Kingdom.

The international obligations that would apply if Ofcom recommended proscription of al-Manar are principally those of the EU television without frontiers directive. If Ofcom advised that there were grounds to take action against al-Manar and that the French authorities had failed to respond adequately, the Secretary of State could consider proscription.

As regards the internet, what is illegal offline is illegal online. In other words, material placed on net servers based in the UK that is illegal can be taken down. We will work with the police and the Internet Watch Foundation to that effect. There are, of course, problems with internet service providers that operate outside our jurisdiction. That involves not only anti-Semitism but other forms of hate that are spewed out on the internet. I have dealt with that in relation to animal rights extremism too, so it is a big issue.

My hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North made important points not only about what we can do nationally in Parliament and what the police can do, but about what we should do in communities to ensure that we have a partnership, work together and celebrate the good interfaith and interracial work that is being done   in many communities up and down the UK. Anti-Semitism is a problem not only for the Jewish community but for all society, and we should strive for solutions collectively. We shall continue to liaise with the Community Security Trust to monitor anti-Semitism and to inform policy. Where the police also collect data, they fit with the CST figures. It is important to have engagement between the figures from the voluntary sector and what we collect on a statutory basis.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will continue to meet regularly the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, as he does the general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain. This is not a situation in which we can say that we have done our job. We must constantly be vigilant, and I assure everyone that that will continue to be the case.
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