The first six months of the year saw the highest number of antisemitic incidents ever recorded in the UK in the same period of any year, according to a new report by the Community Security Trust.
Between January and June 2019, there were 892 incidents of anti-Jewish racism recorded by the CST — a rise of 10 per cent on the first six months of 2018.
The CST’s report, published on Thursday, confirms that social media accounted for 36 per cent or 384 of the incidents.
The report suggests the internet has become an “essential and convenient vessel through which those who wish to harass, abuse and threaten Jewish individuals and institutions”.
Worryingly, the CST also recorded 85 incidents which were classed as “assaults” during the first six months of 2019 — an increase of 37 per cent on the 62 incidents of this type recorded in the first half of 2018.
Abusive behaviour — including verbal abuse, antisemitic graffiti, antisemitic abuse via social media and one-off cases of hate mail — accounted for 710 of the total number.
While incidents in the Greater London and Greater Manchester regions dropped slightly, there was an increase in incidents in Hertfordshire, Merseyside and Wales.
David Delew, the CST’s chief executive said: “This is the third year in a row that CST has seen an increase in reports of antisemitic incidents.
"The problem is spreading across the country and online, it reflects deepening divisions in our society and it is causing increasing anxiety in the Jewish community.
“It will take people of all communities and backgrounds standing together to turn this tide of hate around.”
The highest monthly totals seen during the first half of 2019 were February and March, with 182 and 169 antisemitic incidents respectively.
These were months when issues relating to Jews and antisemitism were prominent in news and politics due to the continuing controversy over antisemitism in Labour.
February saw several MPs leave Labour — including Luciana Berger, who cited antisemitism as the main reason for her decision.
Twenty-five of the reported assaults involved punching or kicking of the victim; 23 involved stones, bottles, eggs or other objects being thrown; and 53 contained an element of antisemitic verbal abuse.
At least two incidents resulted in the victim needing to attend hospital.
None of these violent incidents were classified by CST as ‘Extreme violence’, which would mean they involved grievous bodily harm or a threat to life.
There were 225 antisemitic incidents reported to CST in the first six months of 2019 in which the victims were random Jewish individuals.
In at least 110 incidents the victims were visibly Jewish, on account of their religious or traditional clothing, Jewish school uniforms, or jewellery and insignia bearing religious symbols.
There were 22 antisemitic incidents recorded during the first six months of 2019 that targeted synagogues — which involved buildings, congregants and staff while on location.
A further 16 incidents saw synagogue congregants or rabbis targeted on their way to or from prayer services — 11 such incidents were recorded from January to June last year.
Almost two thirds of the 892 antisemitic incidents were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester, the two largest Jewish communities in the UK.
CST recorded 453 antisemitic incidents in Greater London in the first half of 2019 — a fall of one per cent from the 459 incidents recorded in London in the first half of 2018.
There was a similar fall in antisemitic incidents in Greater Manchester, from 125 incidents in the first half of 2018 to 123 incidents this year.
In contrast, CST recorded an increase in antisemitic incidents outside London and Manchester, from 226 incidents in the first half of 2018 to 316 this year.
This included 43 antisemitic incidents in Hertfordshire, 34 in Merseyside, 18 in Gateshead, 15 in Leeds, 12 in Birmingham and 11 in Wales.
This increase in antisemitic incidents outside London and Manchester is probably a consequence of the increase in online incidents recorded by CST, as well as reflecting CST’s ongoing efforts to improve the sharing of anonymised incident reports with police forces around the UK.
Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl noted more than 100 of the incidents related to incidents within the Labour Party.
"This makes shameful reading for the party’s leadership," she said. "They must finally take the steps required to rid their party of this appalling racism.
"Defeating the evil of antisemitism will take a concerted effort by the country’s political leadership and civil society to ensure that this country remains a safe and happy place for the Jewish community.“
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for hate crime, said: “It can never be acceptable to abuse someone because of their ethnicity or religion, but we see that there are still far too many in our society who are prepared to act illegally, fuelled by global events, divisions in our own society or by bigoted ideologies...
“It is always concerning to see indicators of increased hate crime, unless we are confident that they reflect better reporting or recording. We will be working with analysts when the national crime data is released in autumn, to establish whether these increases reflect a greater incidence of hate crime or further improvements in reporting levels.
“Evidence from hate crime statistics and the national crime survey over the last decade suggest that more hate crime victims are willing to report crimes when they do occur. However, we cannot be complacent and a single crime is unacceptable. I would encourage every victim to report any hate crimes, either by contacting the police direct or through CST.”
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: "Antisemitism has absolutely no place in our society and it is utterly appalling to see that the number of antisemitic incidents continues to rise.
“This Government has put millions into protecting all places of worship and faith schools, and we continue to fund education courses to tackle the scourge of racism at its root.
“Jewish people, and all our faith communities, must feel safe in Britain.”