Mark Gardner

Last year’s astonishing wave of antisemitism was driven by a deep hatred of the West

The surge in Jew-hate in 2023 was shocking in speed and scale – but CST was prepared for it


Protesters hold placards during a demonstration to protest against antisemitism, in central London on November 26, 2023 (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

February 15, 2024 08:29

The surge in antisemitism that flew around our country after the Hamas terror attack on Israel was shocking in its speed and scale, but it was no surprise to CST. Indeed, it was exactly the reason why we have built CST over the last 30 years of its existence.

You can track the current anti-Jewish hatred back to the start of the Second Intifada in the early 2000s, when Britain saw well over 1,000,000 people demonstrating on a joint ticket of “Free Palestine” and “Don’t Attack Iraq”. This was the alliance between the far left and Islamists, demonstrations when people literally dressed up as suicide bombers and openly supported Hamas and Hezbollah.

The hatred bubbled and boiled away, through successive Middle East conflicts, in our universities, on our streets and in the radicalising echo chambers of social media. The Hamas terror attack on October 7 blew the lid off the pressure cooker.

At CST we were prepared. We already had a security operation in place on October 7, for Shabbat and Yomtov, and we quickly strengthened it. This has continued ever since, with extra security at schools, synagogues, communal events and shopping areas, and more staff and volunteers brought into CST’s offices.

Every part of CST’s work has risen dramatically. Today’s report shows the increase in the number of anti-Jewish hate incidents that qualify to be included in our statistics. What it doesn’t show is the number of calls and emails we took from across the community, from parents worried about sending their children to school or people unsure whether it was safe to go into central London at the weekend. At one point our phone system handled 17,000 calls in a single day – a truly astonishing number that shows the scale of the challenge.

The political support we received from across the spectrum was very welcome. On Monday 9 October, the first working day after the Hamas massacre, the Home Secretary and senior police officers were in CST’s head office asking us what more they could do to help. The same message came from the Opposition parties. As a community, we should not take this for granted.

The police, too, were quick to act. They are keenly aware that war in Israel means more antisemitism in Britain, and as soon as the horrific news spread of the attacks, they increased patrols in Jewish community areas. There were three police officers permanently stationed in CST’s office, bringing an immediate response to incidents that were called into our 24/7 security control centre.

We obviously want to see more arrests and prosecutions for antisemitism, but CST works more closely with the police than anyone else in our community and we know that for every high-profile failure, there are many more success stories brought about by community reporting, CST intelligence and committed police officers and prosecutors. In our experience, officers at all levels understand that the hatred faced by Jews is both a threat to us directly and also to the entire country.

Because make no mistake, the extremism that drives this anti-Jewish hatred also nurtures a deep hatred of Britain and the West. Why else would demonstrators climb on war memorials or intimidate children eating in MacDonalds? That is also why you see the hypocrisy of demonstrators calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, whilst also chanting for more Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

For all the hundreds of demonstrations over the years, none have ever called for peace between Palestinians and Israelis or encouraged conciliation between communities here in Britain. Hatred and division drive them now and always. That is why CST was prepared for October 7 and it is why we will be ready for whatever happens next.

Mark Gardner, Chief Executive, Community Security Trust

February 15, 2024 08:29

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