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Antisemitism at record level in UK, study shows

Community Security Trust report reveals 34 per cent rise in violent assaults against Jews in past 12 months

    The number of antisemitic incidents in Britain reached the highest level on record in 2017 - including a 34 per cent increase in the number of violent assaults - according to new figures published by the Community Security Trust.

    The CST’s annual statistics show there were 1,382 incidents of Jew hatred last year — a three per cent increase on the previous 12 months.

    Although some years have seen a higher annual rise, the 2017 figures are especially concerning because there has been no sudden jump but rather the continuation of a trend. 

    CST recorded over 100 antisemitic incidents in each of the nineteen months between April 2016 and October 2017. In contrast, on only six occasions in the ten years before April 2016 were over 100 incidents recorded in a single month – almost all sudden spikes when Israel was at war.

    While no single cause is blamed for the record total, the report suggests it is the continuation of the trend that began in 2016 with the unprecedented publicity around allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party, along with the reported rise in hate crime following the referendum to leave the European Union in June 2016. 

    The Antisemitic Incidents Report 2017, published on Thursday, shows a 34 per cent increase in the number of violent antisemitic assaults, from 108 in 2016 to 145 in 2017.

    This is the highest annual total of assaults — which covers a broad range of violent incidents from common assault to actual bodily harm — ever recorded by CST, surpassing the 121 incidents recorded in 2009.

    The report also reveals that incidents of damage and desecration to Jewish property increased by 14 per cent, from 81 incidents in 2016 to 92 incidents in 2017.

    There are 1,038 incidents of abusive behaviour recorded, just one fewer than the 1,039 incidents recorded in 2016 and the second highest total CST has ever recorded in this category.

    Abusive behaviour includes verbal abuse, hate mail, antisemitic graffiti on non-Jewish property and anti-Jewish content on social media.

    The most common type of incident last year involved verbal abuse directed at random Jewish people in public. The were 356 cases, of which at least 283 involved targets who were visibly Jewish, usually due to their religious or traditional clothing, school uniform or jewellery bearing Jewish symbols. 

    There were a total of 670 cases of verbal antisemitic abuse with a further 247 incidents involving social media — 18 per cent of the overall total of incidents.

    Far-right, anti-Israel or Islamist beliefs were seen as motivation in 221 cases, compared to 246 in 2016.

    Three-quarters of the incidents in 2017 took place in Greater London and Greater Manchester, home to the two largest Jewish communities in the UK.

    CST recorded 773 antisemitic incidents in London in 2017, down seven per cent on the  835 during 2016.

    In Greater Manchester, 261 incidents were recorded last year compared to 206 in 2016, an increase of 27 per cent.

    The 2017 total included 40 antisemitic incidents in Hertfordshire (of which 18 were in Borehamwood), 32 in Gateshead, 22 in Leeds, 15 in Brighton and Hove, 14 in Cambridge and 12 in Liverpool.

    The report reveals how in London in August a man hurled a glass bottle towards a group of visibly Jewish girls before chasing after them shouting: ‘Hitler is a good man.’

    A month earlier, in Manchester, the report details how a visibly Jewish man and his son had stones thrown at them by 15 youths.

    In Hertfordshire in October, a Jewish boy was pushed to the ground by a gang of children who screamed abuse at him, including “f***ing Jew’.

    Out of the total 1,382 incidents, 76 targeted synagogues while 88 were directed against Jewish schools, children or staff. 

    In 141 incidents the victims were Jewish community organisations, communal events, commercial premises or high-profile individuals, compared to 169 such incidents in 2016.

    Where CST received a physical description of the offender — in 420 or 30 per cent of all incidents — 54 per cent were described as being “white, north European”.

    A minority of offenders were described as being of “black”, “south Asian” or, in a very few cases “Arab or north African” origin.

    The report suggests that “antisemitic hate crime and hate incidents, like other forms of hate crime, are significantly under-reported”.

    It also reveals that 872 potential incidents were not included in the annual total as it was not possible to determine the motivation of offenders so they could not be classed as antisemitic.

    Responding to the figures, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the rise in reported incidents “partly reflects the improving response to these horrendous attacks and better information sharing between the CST and police forces around the UK”. 

    She added: “But even one incident is one too many, and any rise in incidents is clearly concerning, which is why this government will continue its work protecting the Jewish community and other groups from antisemitism and hate crime. “  Andrew Gwynne, the Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, said:  “The findings of this report are extremely concerning, and emphasise just how important it is that we all make a conscious effort to call out and confront antisemitism. 

    “No one should feel unsafe or discriminated against while going about their daily business in public places. Hate has no place in our country and we must root out antisemitism whenever and wherever it takes place. 

    “I hope CST’s report will act as a stark reminder of the work that still needs to be done.” 

    National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Hate Crime, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said: “The partnership between police and CST is central to our efforts to protect our Jewish communities from hate crime.

    “I would encourage anybody who suffers hate crime to report it to the police and to CST – we will do everything we can to support you and to bring offenders to justice.”

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