The number of antisemitic incidents recorded by the Community Security Trust in 2018 has rocketed to 1,652 – the highest ever total for the third year running.
CST bosses said “extremist” language and imagery, including references to the Nazis, were now being seen in almost half of all incidents, compared to less than a third in previous years.
While the travails of the Labour Party and ongoing fighting on the Gaza border spurred some antisemitic reaction, the charity said there was no specific “trigger” for this year’s record level of reported incidents.
“Whereas previous high annual totals in 2014 and 2009 were almost entirely due to reactions to conflicts involving Israel, there has been no single trigger event to cause any of the high annual totals in recent years,” they said. “As was the case in 2017, there was no single, specific event in 2018 to cause a sudden and temporary spike.”
For the first time ever, there were more than 100 incidents every month of the year, showing sustained high levels, and for the first time since 2015, the charity recorded an incident of “extreme violence,” with “potential loss of life or grievous bodily harm”.
The incident was recorded in London in December. Following a dispute surrounding a sale, the victim was attacked and cut with a knife, punched and kicked while the offender said: “I’m going to kill you, you f***ing Jew.”
Three years of rising antisemitic incidents shows the scale of the problem facing the Jewish community. This is happening across society and across the country and it reflects deepening divides in our country and our politics
In Gateshead, two Orthodox men were attacked by a group of three youths in April, with one punched and slashed with a knife under his eye, an injury which required hospital treatment.
CST said there were 122 incidents of assault last year, of which 101 were “random attacks on Jewish people in public spaces,” 57 of these against people who were “visibly Jewish”. Six assaults were recorded either at or on the way to synagogue, while another 20 assaults were recorded against Jewish schoolchildren.
Among the examples cited in CST’s report, published today, was a teenage Jewish boy approached by a man on a bus who began making antisemitic comments before using a lighter to burn the boy’s hair.
Jewish people are on the receiving end of this hatred but it must not be left to us to tackle alone
In Sussex, an 11-year-old boy was verbally abused by fellow pupils from his school, who made statements such as “Burn all Jews” and “Hitler was the f**king greatest”. The CST said this abuse “was ongoing over a number of months, and culminated into a physical assault on a school field in May”.
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The charity, which disburses more than £13 million in annual security funding from the Government, said the number and proportion of incidents it logged from police data-sharing had risen again last year, in part because of new arrangements with British Transport Police, which reported 78 incidents to CST.
CST chief executive David Delew said: “Three years of rising antisemitic incidents shows the scale of the problem facing the Jewish community. This is happening across society and across the country and it reflects deepening divides in our country and our politics.”
He added: “Jewish people are on the receiving end of this hatred but it must not be left to us to tackle alone.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid is due to co-chair an antisemitism roundtable “to discuss how we further tackle these issues” while Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said he was “shocked and saddened” at the latest figures.
Labour front-bencher Andrew Gwynne MP said the statistics “make for hard reading and show that much more needs to be done” while All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism chair John Mann MP said the figures were “sadly not surprising,” adding that there was a “whole antisemitic onslaught on social media”.
In accounting for the highest ever numbers, National Policing Lead for Hate Crime Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said “evidence… suggests that more hate crime victims are willing to report crimes”.
However the CST added that it suggests “an enduring situation in which people with antisemitic attitudes appear to be more confident to express their views”.
Commenting on the shocking rise in antisemitism, Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “In 2018, the most antisemitic year since records began, almost a third of all incidents involved discourse based on the Nazis, including swastikas and references to the Holocaust; a 7% increase on 2017.”
These concerning figures make the mission of the Holocaust Educational Trust more important than ever before, as we educate people from every background about the Holocaust and its contemporary relevance. We must recommit to ensuring that antisemitism has no place in modern society.”
Jemma Levene, deputy director, HOPE not hate commented that “today, Jewish people face growing hatred from an increasingly violent fascist threat. At the same time, age-old antisemitic tropes find new forms in conspiracy theories like those aimed at George Soros. Meanwhile, the left has failed to face up to the racists in its own midst who push antisemitic memes and themes online.”
“In fact, the same old evil is being reinvented with new faces, pushed increasingly online and by a younger generation. It’s vital we stand up to this most pernicious form of hatred and act against it wherever we find it.”