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Society’s growing divisions and the state of politics fuelled this increase

    The new antisemitic incident figures showing another record total make for depressing reading.

    The 767 incidents recorded by CST from January to June this year follow last year’s record total of over 1,300 incidents for the whole of 2016.

    It means that, if the second half of 2017 is similar to the first, we are on course for another record annual total when we get to the end of this year.

    CST repeatedly records over 100 antisemitic incidents per month across the UK when five years ago we were recording around half that.

    Unlike when previous highs were very obviously fuelled by overseas conflicts, there is no specific, identifiable reason for this increase. Nor are most incidents a result of political extremism, although conspiracy theories and stereotypes about Jews seem to be increasingly common.

    The overall numbers have increased, but there is no particular change in the types of incidents being logged by CST, nor in the kind of people perpetrating them.

    Around 10 per cent of incidents are violent (thankfully, few of them involve serious violence) and between a quarter and a fifth take place on social media.

    These proportions haven’t varied much in the past few years, and the most common type of incident is still that in which a passer-by randomly shouts antisemitic abuse at a visibly Jewish person on the street.

    Looking at the figures in detail, it is therefore hard to escape the conclusion that antisemitism is simply on the rise.

    There have been some improvements in reporting of incidents, whether from victims and witnesses of hate crimes, from the large number of security guards across the Jewish community, or from the police via CST’s information-sharing agreement: but this cannot explain away the scale and the breadth of the increase.

    The rise in the figures comes at a time when society is increasingly divided, politics is polarised and there is too much anger and hatred in how we conduct our political debates. People feel insecure and look for others to blame. Antisemitism flourishes in conditions like this.

    CST will continue to work with government, the police and prosecutors to tackle this problem, but it is hard to see why or how antisemitic incident totals might fall significantly in the short term.

    Worse still, if another conflict does occur in the Middle East, it will now come on top of this new reality.

     

    Dave Rich is CST deputy communications director

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