The figures in CST’s latest antisemitic incidents report may not surprise many JC readers, but we cannot regard them as anything less than wholly unacceptable in every way.
The annual total, the highest ever, three per cent up on the record high 2016 figure, will of course grab the headlines, but the overall trend is what matters most.
The most explicit way of showing this is to say that from April 2016 to October 2017, inclusive, CST recorded more than 100 antisemitic incidents each month — that’s 19 months in a row. In the ten years before April 2016, we recorded over 100 incidents a month on six separate occasions, mostly in sudden and direct correlation to Israel being at war.
Obviously, I hope that the percentage of antisemitic incident victims and witnesses contacting CST increases year on year, otherwise we are not doing our job properly. But even accounting for possible improvements in the rate of reporting, it is clear that the situation across 2016 and 2017 has been worse than at any similar length in the preceding decade.
Even more obvious and far more important is that this has occurred without any war in the Middle East. The rise is not a temporary spike of the type that we may — in our heart of hearts — like to think is somehow an external, passing matter.
Rather, this sustained high level of antisemitic incidents is British and is local in every sense. Even if it now slightly declines, as the November 2017-January 2018 figures suggest it may do, we have been warned just how much antisemitism in the shape of basic thuggery, hate and racism is out there.
As chief executive of CST, I am clear what our role is. We are not here to publicise antisemitism but to provide an honest and sober assessment of the situation, including reminders that the problems should be measured against the context of otherwise flourishing and free Jewish life.
We are here to empower our community and to help facilitate its success. But that means we must stand proud for what we believe in and have the resilience to fight our corner whenever necessary.
For those reasons, I regret that CST has to issue these latest figures and it saddens me to know that behind every single statistic is a human being, or a communal organisation, that has been impacted by antisemitism.
It is perhaps a cliché to say that even one antisemitic attack is one incident too many: how much more so then when we count nearly 1,400 in a calendar year and know that the majority still go unreported to police or to CST.