For once, the antisemitism headlines are good news, “CST reports incidents down by 18 per cent”.
At CST, we welcome the fall, but know that many of the 529 incidents involve very upsetting cases. Furthermore, surveys show that only one in four incidents is actually reported, either to CST or to the police.
Nevertheless, 18 per cent is a good decline by any standards. So what happened and what does it mean?
The quick answer is that antisemitic crimes did indeed fall, but don’t read too much into it. To explain why, consider three overlapping factors.
Firstly, the worst antisemitism increases surround Israel and major Jewish issues. Thankfully, 2013 was relatively peaceful, with no big “triggers” for antisemitic surges. But ongoing Israeli-Palestinian talks end by May; and the situations with Syria and Iran could easily worsen. Here in Britain, wide-eyed anti-Israel passions continue, as do malign chatter against Jews and Zionists. The lid stayed on the antisemitic pressure cooker in 2013, but the heat is still on.
Secondly, Government statistics show a fall of 10 per cent in crime levels overall for 2013. Anti-social behaviour orders are having a real impact against the type of thugs who often perpetrate antisemitism. Confusingly, the pattern is inconsistent. There were falls in London, Hertfordshire, Birmingham and Glasgow. Manchester, Leeds and Gateshead were almost static. Liverpool worsened.
Thirdly, and far harder to measure, there is the impact of CST and our many partners. The effect of constant, resolute opposition to antisemitism can only be positive. For example, the reactions against Nicolas Anelka’s recent gesture in support of French antisemite, Dieudonné, have been far better than we would have expected even five years ago, showing that our messages about modern antisemitism are getting through.
Fittingly, all of this learning comes together on campus. In 2013, campus incidents fell by a hugely welcome 73 per cent (from 33 to nine). Student fees and budget cuts were simply bigger issues than Israel.
Years of consistent hard work by CST, Jewish students and others have helped persuade universities and student unions to emphasise inclusivity; and many hate speakers have been calmly turned away.
Of course, circumstances can change, but for now let us be totally positive in our Jewish identity, whether on campus or anywhere else.