The Community Security Trust (CST) has recorded the third-highest number of antisemitic incidents for the first six months of a year, despite the coronavirus pandemic leading to a slight decrease in overall incidents.
According to the figures, outlined in the CST’s new half-yearly report, there were 789 recorded incidents of antisemitism between January and June 2020 — a drop of 13 per cent compared to the first six months of 2019.
The report, published on Thursday, added that instances of antisemitism online were at their highest ever recorded in the CST’s January to June half-yearly reports, with 344 incidents.
The CST said that the overall drop in antisemitic incidents was explained by the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown, adding that the lowest monthly totals in the figures were recorded in April and March, with 98 and 102 incidents.
The report said it was “likely” that the lockdown “contributed to the reduction in reports. The fact that over 100 incidents were recorded in five of the six months,” it wrote, “sustains the pattern of historically high antisemitic incident figures.”
The CST noted that the Covid-19 pandemic had seen the emergence of antisemitic conspiracy theories online that included “theories accusing Jews of inventing the Coronavirus ‘hoax’, or of creating and spreading COVID-19 itself, for various malevolent or financial purposes”.
Of the 789 that were reported to the monitoring organisation, the CST said that only 47 were “violent antisemitic assaults” — a decrease of 45 per cent compared to the January to June period in 2019.
The vast majority, 673, of antisemitic incidents were classed as “verbal abuse, antisemitic graffiti, antisemitic abuse via social media and one-off cases of hate mail.” The report also stated that it had recorded 36 “direct antisemitic threats” and five cases of “mass-mailed antisemitic leaflets or emails.”
Incidents in Greater London rose two per cent, while those in Greater Manchester dropped 44 per cent.
The report found that as “antisemitic incidents in Manchester tend to be more street-based than in London,” such a drop was to be expected because of the lockdown.
Incidents in Northumbria, which is home to Jewish communities in Gateshead and Newcastle, almost doubled from 24 to 40, while incidents in West Yorkshire, Hertfordshire dropped slightly.
The CST’s Chief Executive David D–––elew said: “Any reduction in antisemitism is welcome but it is worrying that even during a national lockdown antisemitic incidents only fell by 13 per cent and new antisemitic lies have emerged to add to old hatreds. History tells us that antisemitism grows at times of great social upheaval and we need to ensure the same is not happening here.”
Lord Mann, who is the government’s Independent Adviser on Antisemitism, said that the rise in “some regions” underlined that antisemitism was a problem facing Jews nationally.
He added: “Despite a good policing response, internet companies are failing to play their role in tackling this hatred and we need to see a robust consistency from all our political parties.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel said that antisemitism was “abhorrent” and underscored the government’s grant of £14 million to the CST “to keep members of the Jewish community safe as they go about their daily lives.”
Her Labour counterpart Nick Thomas-Symonds added that the report showed “the scourge of antisemitism continues in our society” and said that the Labour Party under Sir Keir Starmer was committed to “tearing out the poison of antisemitism by its roots from the Labour Party” and wider society.