The Community Security Trust recorded more antisemitic incidents in 2009 than in any other year since records began 26 years ago.
Releasing its annual figures for last year, the CST confirmed that 924 incidents were reported, including violent assaults, desecration of property and death threats.
The 69 per cent rise on 2008 followed an “unprecedented” number of antisemitic attacks recorded in January and February last year, during and after the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Around a quarter of cases included references to Gaza.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown called the rise in antisemitism “deeply troubling”. He said debate over the Middle East conflict was welcome, but “no strength of feeling can ever justify violent extremism or attacks and we will stand firm against all those who would use anti-Israeli feeling as an excuse or disguise for antisemitism and attacks on the Jewish community.
“Whether online, on campus or on the streets, there is absolutely no place for racism or discrimination of any sort and the CST has my wholehearted support.”
924 antisemitic incidents in 2009
69% increase on 2008
288 incidents in January alone
CST spokesman Mark Gardner said: “These record figures show that antisemitism is an increasingly significant problem for British Jews. The trend must be reversed and we call upon decent people to speak out against antisemitism in all its forms.”
In January alone there were 288 incidents, the highest ever single month figure and equal to half of
the total in 2008.
It took around three months after the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead for numbers to return to “normal” levels.
The next highest total was in 2006, when almost 600 incidents were recorded following the Lebanon war.
Attacks occurred across Britain. Jewish communities in London faced twice as many attacks as the previous year, and in Manchester there was a rise of 65 per cent year-on-year. Antisemitic incidents were reported in more than 70 other locations.
Young members of the community faced threats at their schools and university campuses. There were 20 incidents involving Jewish teachers and pupils at mainstream schools and almost 100 cases of abusive behaviour, antisemitic literature and threats reported at university students and academics.
Among the most extreme attacks was an assault in May on a Jewish man driving a mobility scooter. As he left a synagogue a car mounted the pavement and rammed him as its Asian driver shouted “Jew, Jew”.
In January a north west London shul was set on fire. Arsonists attempted to break a window to pour petrol into the building but failed and resorted to burning the back door. Eight months later, a Hertfordshire shul had two swastikas carved into its front door.
There were dozens of cases of graffiti stating “Kill the Jews”, “slay Jewish pigs” and “Jihad 4 Israel”, as well as references to Hitler and the Holocaust.
John Mann MP, chair of the Parliamentary Committee against Antisemitism, said: “This report makes for disturbing reading. While incident figures continue to climb, we must do all we can to ensure such hatred is met with our determination to stop it. This underlines the need for all the recommendations of our All-Party Inquiry report to be implemented without delay.”