Anti-Semitism in UK reaches record-high numbers, report says

The increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the United Kingdom has set a new record for the third year in a row.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United Kingdom has set a new record for the third year in a row, according to a report released this week by the Community Security Trust (CST).

In 2018, 1,652 expressions of hatred of Jews were reported across the country, which represented a 16% jump from the previous year. The number for 2017 showed an increase of 3% over 2016.

The vast majority of incidents – 1,300 – consisted of verbal invective, hate mail, and graffiti.

The “good” news is that physical assaults were down by 17%, with 123 attacks versus 149 in 2017. Property damage was on a similar downward trend, with 78 occurrences as opposed to 93 the previous year.

Nearly three-quarters of the incidents took place in London and Manchester, home to the largest Jewish communities in the U.K. Most of them “involved verbal abuse randomly directed at visibly Jewish people in public,” the CST stated, while almost 25% were found on social media.

The large British Jewish non-profit organization has tracked such incidents since 1984 as part of its role in helping the police protect Jewish schools, synagogues, organizations and community events.

In a statement that accompanied the report, CST noted the reasons for the rise in numbers.

“This pattern of consistently high incident totals suggests an enduring situation in which people with anti-Semitic attitudes appear to be more confident to express their views; while incident victims and reporters may be more motivated to report the anti-Semitism they experience or encounter,” it said.

Most of the recorded instances took place in May, April, August and September, which the CST attributed to “reactions to political events in the U.K. and overseas, involving the Labour Party and violence on the border of Israel and Gaza during those months.”

The report specifically noted that nearly 9% of the incidents – 148 of total – had to do with disputes over alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, which has been especially dogged by accusations of Jew-hatred in its ranks since Jeremy Corbyn became its leader in 2015.

Over 10% of the incidents (173) reflected the perpetrators’ hatred of Israel. Only 13 incidents were motivated by extremist Islamic beliefs.

Reacting to the report, British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the government was working with the Jewish community to fight the “utterly despicable” phenomenon. “The Jewish community should not have to tolerate these attacks and we are doing all we can to rid society of these poisonous views,” he said.

Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, called the report “very worrying.” She said there was “no room for complacency” in the fight against racism and hatred, although she maintained that “overall, the U.K. remains a happy place for its Jewish community.”