Anti-Semitic incidents in the UK are now at record levels, after the charity charged with protecting the Jewish community revealed “shocking” new figures from the first half of 2017.
Today’s report by the Community Security Trust (CST) shows 767 anti-Semitic incidents recorded between January and June, a 30 percent increase on the same period last year. Of these, 425 were reported in London, and 80 were ‘assaults,’ an increase of 78 percent from this time last year.
Almost half the total number of incidents were classed as “verbal anti-Semitic abuse,” the CST said, with pedestrians often targeted from passing cars, while a fifth were reported as online hate crime, typically sent over social media platforms.
Of particular concern for parents may be reports that the number of incidents at Jewish schools more than doubled when compared to the first half of 2016, with 22 registered by the charity, whose volunteers help protect community buildings.
Dispelling the myth that most of anti-Jewish hostility is directed by Muslims, the charity reported that – of perpetrators whose ethnic origin had been identified – more than half were described as white European, while only five percent were described as Arab or North African.
Similarly, when analysing the 220 incidents of anti-Semitism in which political motivations had been shown, 148 showed far-right sympathies, 55 referenced Israel, Zionism or the Middle East, and only 17 included Islamist discourse.
CST chiefs this week said the figures now represented a long-term trend of “sustained high levels of anti-Semitic incidents since July and August 2014,” when Israel launched military action in Gaza in response to rocket fire.
This time, however, the number of anti-Semitic incidents did not recede after the fighting ended, unlike with previous conflicts in 2006 and 2009, when the charity registered drops in hostility towards Jews with the announcement of ceasefires.
Both the CST and Government Minister Lord Bourne acknowledged that the increased number of incidents may reflect better reporting by Jewish victims, as well as better coordination with police forces.
Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, who is the National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Anti-Semitic Issues, said: “There is never any excuse for abuse, racism or hate crime. Police forces take our responsibility to protect people from harm and promote cohesion seriously.”
CST chief executive David Delew said the figures were “now almost twice as bad as five years ago,” adding: “Some of this may be down to improved reporting, but it is sadly clear that the overall situation has deteriorated.”
Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP said the government had renewed its £13.4 million security funding and “made available £900,000 for innovative schemes to tackle various types of hate crime,” adding: “We will continue to drive forward action and develop new ways to rid the country of anti-Semitism and hate crime in all its forms.”
Labour’s Dawn Butler MP, the shadow minister for diverse communities, said: “The continued rise in anti-Semitic incidents is appalling and is beginning to display a very worrying trend. These crimes have no place in our society. We must combat and tackle the root cause of this criminality and seek to build a society that is fair, tolerant and free of all forms of racism and discrimination.”
Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust added that it “extremely concerning that the first six months of 2017 saw a record number of antisemitic hate incidents in the UK, as reported by the CST today. We have seen where antisemitism can ultimately lead if left unchecked and in an increasingly fragile world, it is more important than ever that this hatred is never tolerated. This report reinforces our belief that education about the past is more crucial than ever.”