THE BLOG
29/10/2015 06:14 GMT | Updated 28/10/2016 06:12 BST

Only Together Can We Stop All Hate Crimes

I am privileged as a member of the House of Lords, to be part of a group which stands against anti-Semitic hate crime. Nobody should ever be victimised for their religion, race, colour or any of the other 'differences' which seem to blind some people to the similarities which unite us all.

Last month (5th September), four Jewish men were attacked in Manchester. One of the four was hospitalised as a result of the beating.

It was not an isolated incident.

Home Office figures show hate crimes are on the increase across the UK, with 52,528 incidents in 2014-15, up 18 per cent from the previous year's 44,471. More than 80 per cent of those crimes were racially motivated.

In the first six months of this year alone, the police recorded 473 anti-Semitic attacks; 53 per cent more than the same period last year.

It's one reason why I was pleased to be part of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) Against Anti-Semitism which recently travelled to Paris for a summit with our French colleagues. We were there to discuss ways to tackle the increase.

In the past, the Green Party has been accused of holding 'anti-Semitic' views. Perhaps because the idea is so abhorrent to us, and so hard to believe anyone could take such accusations seriously, we have not always addressed the accusation as directly and strongly as we could.

So, I would like to be clear. The Green Party stands squarely against all hate crimes. The very idea that anyone is discriminated against, and targeted verbally or with violence is abhorrent to us, and none of us should stand by and allow it to happen.

There is, of course, a case to be made for protesting against the activities of nation states: the behaviour of Israeli governments is one example in which it is to be hoped public action - in the form of peaceful protest and targeted boycotts of Israeli goods - might help the Netanyahu government to change its practice of targeting and victimising Palestinians.

But that is not the same as - or an attempt to - 'justify' or excuse attacks on individuals, who are attempting, like the rest of us, to live their lives in peace. Any attack on a person because of their skin colour, race, religion, sex or sexuality, is unjustifiable and unacceptable.

I travelled with three APPG members - representatives from three UK political parties, and five others representing police, campaign groups and local government bodies - to meet and discuss the issues with French activists, campaigners, community leaders and politicians. It was an intense 24 hours but the French insight, especially after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, and connected shootings and recent riots elsewhere in Paris, was extremely useful and helpful.

France has certainly suffered from the economic downtown. In one area we visited, we were told that the unemployment rate was 40%., with high levels of concomitant poverty.

Here in the UK we are concerned about hate crimes rising. It should be a concern for every one of us, but it is too easy to allow one terrible incident to colour our attitude of an issue. Sometimes, we all need to take a step back and remember the facts.

For example, that hate crimes are not being 'driven up' by Muslims. In fact, in the UK, hate crimes against Muslims have risen 70 per cent in the last six months, and three in five of those are directed against Muslim women.

I am proud to belong to a party whose policy states: 'Everyone should be protected from crimes motivated by hatred and discrimination based on ethnicity, colour, gender, trans, sexual orientation, religion, social origin, age, disability including learning difficulties or any other prejudice.'

And I am privileged as a member of the House of Lords, to be part of a group which stands against anti-Semitic hate crime. Nobody should ever be victimised for their religion, race, colour or any of the other 'differences' which seem to blind some people to the similarities which unite us all.