Anti-Semitic incidents in UK reach record high in 2017

The UK’s Jewish community experienced another surge in anti-Semitic attacks last year, an increase over 2016 which was itself a record year.

By: World Israel News Staff

The United Kingdom experienced a record-high number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, this according to a new report published by a UK-based anti-Semitism watchdog.

The UK’s Community Security Trust’s (CST) Anti-Semitic Incidents Report recorded 1,382 anti-Semitic incidents nationwide in 2017, the highest total CST has ever recorded for a year.

This is a 3 percent increase from the 1,346 incidents recorded during 2016, which was itself a record annual total. The previous record high was in 2014, when CST recorded 1,182 anti-Semitic incidents.

In addition to the 1,382 anti-Semitic incidents, a further 872 reports of potential incidents were received by CST in 2017, but were not deemed to be anti-Semitic and are not included in this total. Many of these 872 potential incidents involved suspicious activity or possible hostile reconnaissance at Jewish locations; criminal activity affecting Jewish people and buildings; and anti-Israel activity that did not include anti-Semitic language, motivation or targeting.

The incidents were generated by a combination of factors, including an increase in all forms of recorded hate crime and publicity regarding alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, the CST said.

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19 consecutive months of violent incidents

The record total in 2017 saw over 100 anti-Semitic incidents recorded every month from January to October. This continued an unprecedented pattern of monthly totals exceeding 100 incidents for 19 consecutive months from April 2016. In comparison, monthly totals only exceeded 100 incidents on six occasions in the 10 years preceding April 2016. Monthly incident totals did decline towards the end of 2017, with 89 incidents in November and 78 in December, but they remain roughly double the level they were at five years ago.

CST recorded a 34 percent increase in the number of violent anti-Semitic assaults, from 108 in 2016 to 145 in 2017.

CST could not find any single, obvious explanation for this high total, which covers a broad range of violent incidents from common assault to actual bodily harm.

None of these violent incidents were classified by CST as “extreme violence,” which would mean they involved potential grievous bodily harm or threat to life.

The most common single type of incident recorded by CST in 2017 involved verbal abuse randomly directed at visibly Jewish people in public.

In 356 incidents, a quarter of the overall total, the victims were Jewish people, attacked or abused while going about their daily business in public places. In at least 283 incidents, the victims were visibly Jewish, usually due to their religious or traditional clothing, school uniform or jewelry bearing Jewish symbols.

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‘Even one incident is one too many’

CST recorded 247 anti-Semitic incidents that involved social media in 2017, comprising 18 percent of the overall total of incidents. This was a 15 percent fall from the 289 incidents involving social media that CST recorded in 2016, which was 21 percent of the total for that year.

Incidents involving social media are only recorded by CST if they have been reported by either the victim or a witness; if the comment shows evidence of anti-Semitic content, motivation or targeting; and if the offender is based in the United Kingdom or has directly targeted a UK-based victim.

There were 81 incidents of Damage and Desecration of Jewish property in 2017; 1,038 incidents of Abusive Behaviour, including verbal abuse, anti-Semitic graffiti, anti-Semitic abuse via social media and one-off cases of hate mail; 95 direct anti-Semitic threats; and 12 cases of mass-mailed anti-Semitic leaflets or emails.

Three-quarters of the 1,382 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester, the two largest Jewish communities in the UK.

“Hatred is rising and Jewish people are suffering as a result. This should concern everybody because it shows anger and division that threaten all of society,” CST Chief Executive David Delew said. “We have the support of Government and Police, but prosecutions need to be more visible and more frequent; while too many others act in ways that encourage anti-Semites and isolate Jews.”

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Home Secretary Amber Rudd slammed anti-Semitism as a “despicable form of abuse that seeks to undermine our values of diversity and openness and which has absolutely no place in British society. 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 anti-Semitism and hate crime.”