Dramatic fall in antisemitic incidents in Britain

Antisemitic incidents in Britain fell by almost a fifth last year, new figures published by the Community Security Trust have revealed.

A total of 529 reported incidents in 2013 represented the lowest number since 2005, and was an 18 per cent decrease year-on-year.

There were reductions across almost all categories, with abuse targeting schools, synagogue-goers and Jewish property all falling.

One of the biggest drops came on university campuses, with just nine incidents reported and no physical assaults. That reflected a fall of 73 per cent compared to the previous 12-month period.

“Lack of trigger events made 2013 relatively peaceful”

CST said the overall numbers reflected a “genuine decrease” in anti-Jewish abuse in the past year, but warned that under-reporting meant as many as three in four incidents never come to light.

There was a small increase in incidents in Manchester — with two more cases reported last year than in 2012 — but in London there was a substantial drop, with 23 per cent fewer recorded incidents.

CST communications director Mark Gardner said: “Any fall in the number of antisemitic incidents that take place is to be welcomed, but we are always wary of reading too much into short-term trends as we know that the picture can change considerably from year to year.

“We encourage people to continue to report incidents to CST and the police, so that we can give them the help they need, and can support the efforts of law enforcement to catch offenders.”

CST said the fall could also be attributed to a lack of “trigger” events in 2013. A relatively peaceful situation in Israel meant there was less likelihoodof antisemitic attacks occurring in Britain. After the Cast Lead operation in Gaza in 2009, the charity had recorded more than 900 antisemitic incidents in this country.

The 529 cases in 2013 included 69 violent assaults, and just over 360 incidents of abusive behaviour — a 23 per cent drop on the previous year and the lowest recorded since 2008.

There was a reduction in cases of damage and desecration to Jewish property — 49 incidents — representing the lowest total for eight years, and a 58 per cent fall in the incidence of racist literature compared to 2012.

Social media was one category in which CST reported increased antisemitism. Online abuse is known to have troubled the charity for some time, and it recorded 86 incidents last year. It is thought that the internet is one of the leading areas in which abuse goes unreported.

CST’s annual report said the organisation did not “proactively ‘trawl’ social media platforms to look for incidents of this type”, but warned of a “growing relevance” of Jews being targeted online.

Among the most serious attacks last year was one last January in which three Orthodox women were dragged into traffic on a road in Gateshead. In Manchester last February, four Jewish people were assaulted by a drunk man who punched one of them in the face and shouted “****ing Jewish bastard”.

In another Manchester incident, groups of youths threw bricks and stones at Jewish pedestrians.

A Jewish taxi passenger contacted CST last May after the driver told her the Holocaust had never happened and warned that all Jews would be killed in a third World War. When the woman left the taxi the driver told her: “Enjoy life, it probably won’t last that long.”

The greatest number of incidents came in relation to random British Jews being targeted, with 184 cases recorded.

CST found that abusive behaviour and threats were more common in London, with physical assaults more likely in Manchester.

Last updated: 6:30pm, February 6 2014