MA coursework 2016

Cue: There has been a significant increase in the number of hate crime cases reported in London over the past year, according to a study published by the Metropolitan police. In the wake of a string of terror incidents, the reported number of Islamophobic hate crimes have risen by some 60 percent. At the same time, there has been a rise in reports of anti-Semitism and homophobia. Where you might expect a response of fear and fracture, instead, we are finding groups such as the LGBT and Jewish community coming together. Anna Fleck has gone to find out how different groups are combatting hate. 

Leah Jordan, Rabbi, Liberal Jewish Movement Head Office: If you are identifiably Jewish, you will get the occasional nasty kind of slur thrown at you and occasionally something a little worse. 

Leah Jordan is a Rabbi who works at the Head Office of the Liberal Jewish movement in central London. The Metropolitan Police now visit religious centres like this each week. She talked to me about why she thinks these communities are experiencing a backlash. 

 

Leah Jordan, Rabbi, Liberal Jewish Movement Head Office: I don't know. I think that the world is getting more fractured. I think that progressivism and multiculturalism are winning a lot in Britain but I also think that there are people that feel that they are being left out of that and that they are falling back on old and nasty kind of ideologies, probably because of their own marginalisation.

 

Rabbi Jordan walks through the dimly lit, spacious synagogue, where she regularly leads a local youth congregation in prayer, and she reflects on how to respond to hate.

 

Leah Jordan, Rabbi, Liberal Jewish Movement Head Office: We actually have to reach out the hand of friendship, especially right now to the Muslim community in Britain, and we also have to be, not unafraid, but to be constantly reaching out a hand of compassion.

 

Although such attacks are divisive by nature, they actually have led to the opposite. Vulnerable communities have strengthened their networks by forming new alliances. One of these projects is called the Rainbow Jews, which brings together LGBT and religious communities. 

Surat Chaan Kenan, Rainbow Jews Founder and Coordinator: So Rainbow Jews was the first project in the UK about the experience of LGBTQI Jews.

 

Surat Chaan Kenan is the founder and coordinator of the project. He talked to me about how the Rainbow Jews use education as a powerful tool to combat prejudice against misunderstood communities from an early age. 

 

Surat Chaan Kenan, Rainbow Jews Founder and Coordinator: I think there is great hope in the younger generation. So I think yeah, what we need to do is to produce educational resources. But also to educate people about how to be more compassionate, more welcoming, more inclusive towards people who perhaps are a little bit different to themselves in various ways, be it their sexual orientation, their gender identity or their faith.

Though the growing figures of hate crime in London may leave some communities concerned for their safety, Leah Jordan remains hopeful.

 

Leah Jordan, Rabbi, Liberal Jewish Movement Head Office: I really think Britain's going to weather this and I think we are going to come out very proud in hopefully the mid-21st century as being a very diverse, wonderful community. But I think there are growing pains around any change and it's all happening very fast.

 

Until that day, groups including the Rainbow Jews will continue to explore ways to unify. 

Ends

In: If you are identifiably Jewish…

Out: …ways to unify.

Dur: 2:30