In response to calls for racial justice on both sides of the Atlantic, JCORE has produced a list of ten suggested actions for the Jewish community in Britain.
Call out and report racism
Listen to black voices
Ensure communal spaces are safe and inclusive for Jews of Colour
Teach Jewish children about black history and experience
Take action in your workplace
Back the campaign for a slavery memorial
Campaign for justice for Windrush victims
Campaign against child poverty
Advocate for greater refugee and asylum rights
Continue to support refugees and asylum seekers
Dr Edie Friedman, JCORE’s Executive Director, said, “Many in the Jewish community have expressed concern about racism here; this concern must now be matched by action. We hope our plan will enable people to take practical steps to reduce racial inequality in Britain.”
Download a PDF copy or read below for further details.
1. Call out and report racism
Call it out, wherever you find it, and report racist abuse and attacks offline and online. You can report hate crime to the police, a Third-Party Reporting Centre and groups like Tell Mama and StopWatch.
Commit to acting as an ally in solidarity with other communities, understanding that while different forms of racism have distinct features, Antisemitism, anti-black racism and Islamophobia have connections.
Put pressure on communal organisations to tackle racism more broadly, including directly calling out incidents of racism when they occur.
2. Listen to black voices
Take a personal responsibility to learn and reflect. Educate ourselves by reading and listening to those who face and know anti-black racism, and familiarise yourself with black writers. Use this knowledge for personal introspection, and while it can be uncomfortable, seek to become aware of and address our own often unconscious biases.
Push communal organisations to better hear and represent voices of Jews of Colour.
3. Ensure communal spaces are safe and inclusive for Jews of Colour
Challenge your synagogue and other communal groups you are in to commit to being safe spaces for Jews of Colour, and encourage your community and communal groups to recognise, welcome and promote the involvement of Jews of all ethnic backgrounds.
Establish committees that oppose racism within these spaces, and work alongside other communities to fight racism and prejudice in your local area.
4. Teach Jewish children about black history and experience
Urge your children’s schools, cheders and youth groups to provide anti-racist education, decolonise, broaden and transform their curriculums and to ensure Jewish children are taught about black history and experience beyond slavery. Visit the Runnymede Trust’s website for more ideas on how you can reform the history curriculum.
Discuss anti-racist issues within your home. Contact JCORE if you would like advice on further resources to assist with such conversations.
5. Take action in your workplace
Push your employer to go beyond making a statement of solidarity; ensure that they are racially and ethnically diverse and have policies and procedures in place to counter racism and discrimination.
Call out unjust recruitment practices and challenge any bias you see in the workplace.
6. Back the campaign for a slavery memorial
The campaign for a permanent memorial to victims of the transatlantic slave trade has been running for over a decade. Planning permission was granted in 2016 for a sculpture in Hyde Park, but was lost last year because the campaign didn’t have the £4m needed to build it, and the government refused to provide the extra funds required.
The government must reconsider this decision, and give funding without delay to ensure this important part of British history is recognised, and used as an education opportunity. Please write to the Prime Minister urging him to take action on this.
7. Campaign for justice for Windrush victims
Despite the Windrush Compensation Scheme having a potential budget of up to £500m, only 60 people received compensation during the scheme’s first year of operation and just £360,000 was paid out. Many of those waiting for compensation lost their jobs as a result of the scandal, and subsequently accrued debts which they are unable to pay off until they receive compensation.
Write to your MP and campaign for the scheme to be made far more accessible, and lobby the government to honour its promise to fully implement the full set of recommendations from the Windrush Lessons Learned Review to address institutional racism within the Home Office. Visit the Runnymede Trust’s website for ten urgent Windrush recommendations the government should implement.
8. Campaign against child poverty
Join with others in the Jewish community to build a campaign against child poverty, which disproportionately impacts BAME communities. 45% of BAME children live in poverty, compared to 26% for the rest of the population. Worryingly, the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is likely to make this situation even worse.
The ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ visa condition prevents people subject to immigration controls from accessing social housing and many welfare benefits. This has resulted in over 100,000 children in the UK living in poverty. Take action, and lobby for this condition to be scrapped.
9. Advocate for greater refugee and asylum rights
Fighting for racial justice also involves fighting for migrant justice. The ending of the ‘Dubs Scheme’ means that there are now no safe and legal routes for refugee children to come to the UK. A properly funded programme must be introduced in its place.
When protections for refugees were removed from the EU Withdrawal Bill in January 2020, the Prime Minister promised that the UK would continue its commitment to child refugees. This has not been reflected in the government’s planned Brexit agreement for child refugees, which would be the end of child family reunion from Europe as we know it. Write to your MP, and urge the government to rethink its proposals and safeguard family reunion after 1 January 2021.
The latest Home Office Immigration Statistics show a backlog of over 51,000 asylum cases, a record high, with a staggering 61% of those waiting over 6 months. Despite this, asylum seekers are banned from working until they have waited over 12 months for a decision, and are still only then eligible for a very limited shortlist of jobs. With the government recently announcing an insulting 26p/day rise to asylum support, campaign to #LiftTheBan and help people seeking asylum escape destitution.
10. Continue to support refugees and asylum seekers
The combination of very limited statutory support and social distancing measures during the coronavirus pandemic have left refugees and asylum seekers at a very real risk of extreme poverty. If you’re able to, contact your local refugee and migrant drop-in centre to see how you can help, or donate food, or old smartphones, laptops or tablets in good working condition.