Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP and UJS President Hannah Rose discuss politics, prejudice and policies.
The Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP joined us at UJS Conference 2018. In conversation with UJS President Hannah Rose, Sajid Javid addressed questions on his commitment to honouring the memory of the Holocaust, supporting Syrian Refugees, and the difficulties of identity politics.
During his conversation with Hannah, Sajid Javid answered numerous questions about different topics. When asked when the Jewish community could expect progress on the government’s intention to proscribe both the military and political wings of Hezbollah, the Home Secretary said: “l can’t talk about what particular groups may or may not do before we tell parliament if there is to be a change but l do recognise a statement of fact as Hezbollah say themselves, which is Hezbollah leaders don’t even recognise a distinction between the military and political wings.”
With Lord Alf Dubs addressing the conference earlier in the day, and with UJS committed to supporting the resettlement of unaccompanied child refugees in the UK, Mr. Javid was challenged on the low numbers being afforded sanctuary here. It was reassuring to hear of the broader efforts the UK is taking to support those displaced by the conflict in Syria: ‘We’re committed to the Dubs Amendment and are working hard to make sure we get all the children that we are committed to which also means working more closely with Greece and Italy. We’re also committed to children who haven’t made it to any safe country and are working with the UNHCR who help us identify the most vulnerable children and families. We have set an ambitious goal of 20,000 families by 2020, and we’re making very good progress. As a country we should feel proud of the humanitarian protection we have offered and continue to offer to people who are suffering through war or other issues around the world.”
Discussing the challenges of identity politics and being a representative of a minority group in public and political spaces – a challenge Mr. Javid and Hannah share – observations included “There are more and more people from minority backgrounds in politics which is really nice to see, in all parties. That said, the more prominent people become, as well as all the good things which come, abuse also comes. If you’re in politics, you have to do what you believe and that should have very little to do with race or colour. Policies of the day aren’t based on race or colour, and nor should they be. We’re not there to represent a particular community or religion, we’re there to represent what we think is right.”
When serving at the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid approved a grant which made it possible for UJS and the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) to take University leaders to Ausschwitz. 140 people returned from a visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau as part of this programme just a few weeks ago. The Home Secretary reiterated his commitment to honouring the memory of the Holocaust and ensuring education towards eradicating prejudice is a priority: “I saw first-hand the excellent work HET does when l went in 2011 and took 6th form students. It was an incredibly powerful and moving visit. We need to keep this work going. The Holocaust Educational Trust has really strong cross-party support and I feel confident from the history of support that this will continue. I know the current community secretary is very supportive of the programme.”
UJS were also joined on the day by NUS President Shakira Martin, who has been on two UJS delegations to Poland and supported a NUS campaign for students of all backgrounds to play their part in preserving the memory of the Holocaust. Reflecting on her recent experience as part of the UJS and HET programme supported by the UK Government, Shakira “l was not there to be an observer, l refused to be a bystander. We all have a duty to ensure the stories of the survivors live on - but our responsibilities don’t stop there, we all have an obligation to fight antisemitism and expose it in its manifestations. I’m sure l speak for the 93 student union leaders when l say it’s impossible to forget, nor should we want to, we must never forget.”
The Home Secretary stressed the importance of tackling antisemitism in society: “We know antisemitism has been on the rise not just in Britain but other countries, and there are understandably members of the Jewish community who might feel they need extra protection. As long as there are people feeling like that, protection should be there and will always be there. This year the funding has been increased to roughly £30.4 million and since the start of the programme there’s been over £50 million, and as long as it’s needed that support will be there. I hope one day no community in Britain will need that support and that there’s no minority community which feels like it needs extra protection.”
We would like to thank The Home Secretary once again for attending our conference as well as for his ongoing support to the Jewish community.
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