Britain Ramps Up Funding to Protect State-run Jewish Schools

Allocation of 13 million pounds has others expecting to receive government support should their communities face the need for protection.

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A Jewish man surveying a damaged door outside the Ahavas Torah synagogue in the Stamford Hill area of north London on March 22, 2015.
A Jewish man surveying a damaged door outside the Ahavas Torah synagogue in the Stamford Hill area of north London on March 22, 2015. Credit: Niklas Halle'n / AFP

The British government has significantly increased the amount of funding it provides Jewish schools for security in the wake of anti-Semitic attacks across Europe, the Schools Week website reported on Monday.

The Community Security Trust, which underwrites security steps for the Jewish community, has received over 13 million pounds from the Home Office to ramp up safety in Jewish state schools, as well as other community sites. The trust had been receiving 2 million pounds a year from the Education Ministry for private security guards at Jewish state schools from 2010 to 2015, according to Schools Week.

The British government does not provide funding for security at state schools of other religions. A spokesperson for the trust said that “nobody wanted to see security at schools” but that it was a “harsh reality” that Jewish communities face.

In response, the chairman of governors at IQRA Slough Islamic primary school, which is located in Berkshire, said he would expect the government to offer similar aid should the need arise at Muslim schools, Schools Week reported.

“There is no perverse competition for victimhood in this context. If others are similarly targeted for terrorism, then we would expect them also to receive assistance from government and police, whether these are schools or any other facilities,” said Zafar Ali, the chairman.

Ali did note that when vandals torched mosques three or four years ago, his community "employed security services overnight for about 10 weeks" without receiving any government funding. Now that he knows that funding is available to other groups, Ali said that if felt threatened he would "raise that issue with the government as we would be under the same umbrella for possible acts of violence."

The Home Office did not explain to Schools Week why it did not provide such funding.

The spokesman for the Jewish trust commented: “If the regrettable needs and experiences of the Jewish community help to make this highly-complex process easier and quicker for others to adopt, adapt and copy, then we welcome that: whilst of course stressing our deepest concern that such things should be necessary in the first instance.”

According to Schools Week, there are 48 state Jewish schools out of a total of 103 Jewish schools in England, catering to 19,904 pupils.

A Home Office spokesperson commented: “Following recent attacks against individuals and Jewish community sites, including in Paris, Copenhagen, Brussels and Toulouse, there have been considerable efforts from the police, working with the community, to mitigate any threats to Jewish interests in the U.K. This funding is to provide further measures as part of these ongoing efforts to ensure the safety and security of the Jewish community.”

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