Mark Gardner

The growing antisemitism among children needs urgently addressing

Despite the fall in antisemitic incidents this year, there is worrying data about the growing proportion of incidents involving minors

February 09, 2023 11:27

I am glad that our community will not have to endure another round of headlines announcing yet another year of record antisemitism. CST fights antisemitism and we report on it with the utmost rigour and responsibility, but our deeper purpose is to enable our community to lead a proud, open and confident British Jewish life.

Superficially then, the statistics for 2022 suggest an improvement. As ever, though, the devil is in the detail. We had expected a drop in anti-Jewish hate incidents, but only because 2021 was so bad, with antisemites going wild over the war in Israel and Gaza in May 2021.

I’m sure we all remember the convoys, the abuse, the extremism on our streets and the hatred in social media and online, but that didn’t happen in 2022. Last year there was no war in Israel, the pandemic receded, and so what remains in the statistics is simply, starkly, what antisemitism looks like today. This is the level of annual, monthly, daily anti-Jewish hate and it stands at much higher levels than anybody should be willing to accept.

The most striking, and worrying, aspect to come out of this new report is the growing proportion of incidents that involve children. One in five perpetrators of antisemitic incidents reported to CST were under the age of 18 (where CST was told a probable age range). These incidents were more likely to be violent than those involving adults, more likely to include extremist ideology, and more likely to be in-person (ie not online). The proportion of incidents involving minors has also gone up, despite the number of incidents at or near schools having gone down.

We perhaps assume that young people are less likely to be racist than their elders. That may or may not be the case, but it certainly doesn’t apply when it comes to us, when it comes to hating Jews.

Deep research is needed on this subject, but it surely reflects the growing exposure of children to extremist content online, especially of the far Right variety, which was six times more common in incidents last year involving minors, than mentions of Israel or the Middle East. This can also be seen in the most extreme end of the same spectrum, where this is a growing and well-evidenced phenomenon of teenagers seeking to be neo-Nazi terrorists.

Despite the trajectory, this antisemitism still only involves a small minority of young people, but it needs addressing urgently. CST’s antisemitic incidents department gives direct support to victims of anti-Jewish hate, while our Streetwise and Stand Up! programmes, run in partnership with Maccabi GB, teach tens of thousands of school-age children every year about antisemitism. Their work is vital, but it is up against a barrage of online hatred that of course blames and single out the Jews: because the transmission and content of antisemitic ideas may be modern, but as ever we are still facing the same hatred.

Mark Gardner is the Chief Executive of the Community Security Trust

READ MORE: Soaring numbers of children violent to Jews, new CST report finds

February 09, 2023 11:27

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