Europe

Survey: Anti-Semitic Incidents in UK Rise to All-Time High

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK rose 36 percent in 2016, reaching an all-time high, a study by a British Jewish organization revealed Thursday.

The Community Security Trust’s (CST) survey of the UK recorded 1,306 anti-Semitic incidents in 2016, double the number reported four years ago and more than the number reported for 2014, which had a war between Israel and Hamas that led to anti-Semitic violence throughout Europe.

“While Jewish life in this country remains overwhelmingly positive, this heightened level of anti-Semitism is deeply worrying and it appears to be getting worse,” said CST chief executive David Delew, adding, “Some people clearly feel more confident to express their anti-Semitism publicly than they did in the past.”

The record number of anti-Semitic incidents was “deeply worrying, particularly in light of the fact that there was no single trigger event in 2016,” said Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. “Combating anti-Semitism will take a concerted effort by the country’s political leadership, government and civil society. In these uncertain times, we should strive to make the UK a beacon of a society that abhors racism and champions respect between all its citizens.”

The Jewish Chronicle reported further on specific incidents:

Incidents detailed in the report include gas canisters thrown at Jewish shoppers in London by men who shouted “Heil Hitler”; the desecration of 16 gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in Manchester; a brick thrown through the window of a Jewish home in Liverpool; and a Jewish girl in Manchester approached by three youths who shouted: “We will call Hitler to shoot you.”

More than half of all incidents took place in London, which has by far the largest Jewish community in the UK. London Mayor Sadiq Khan released a response to the report, saying that the “significant rise in deplorable hate crimes against Jewish Londoners is shocking and deeply concerning. Any type of anti-Semitic offence is unacceptable in our city.”

“We need to send the message far and wide that anti-Semitism can never be justified and we’ll act to stamp out it out whenever it rears its ugly head,” Khan added. “I have adopted a strict zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism and all hate crime.”

Last week, Khan called on “all Londoners to report any form of hate crime, no matter how trivial,” in response to a series of anti-Semitic incidents reported in the city, including a brick with a swastika on it thrown through a window of a Jewish family’s home.

The growing number of anti-Semitic incidents has also affected university campuses. The Union of Jewish Students noted that campus anti-Semitic incidents had doubled, including an on-campus assault at Cambridge University.

More than 1,000 of the incidents were characterized as “abusive behaviour and threats,” which was the highest that the CST had ever recorded in that category. There were also 107 anti-Semitic assaults, though none life-threatening.

The Labour Party, the second-biggest party in the UK, came under heavy scrutiny in 2016 for anti-Semitism found within its ranks, as well as what many, including Tower contributor Jamie Palmer, described as a “whitewash” of an internal report into the issue. In what may have been a shot at Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s ineffectiveness on this issue, Labour MP John Mann, the chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, said Thursday that contributing factors to the CST’s data included “the rise of nationalist populism and a failure to boldly oppose antisemitism.”

A video summarizing CST’s findings is embedded below.

[Photo: Community Security Trust / YouTube ]