Jewish community in UK sees sharp increase in anti-Semitism

The UK’s Jewish community experienced a surge in anti-Semitic attacks in the past six months, while expressions of Jew hatred on social media are becoming widespread.  

The Jewish community in the United Kingdom experienced an alarming rise in anti-Semitic attacks and incidents during the first six months of 2016.

The Community Security Trust (CST), an anti-Semitism watchdog in the UK, recorded an 11 percent increase in anti-Semitic hate incidents in the UK compared to the same period in 2015.

The CST’s Anti-Semitic Incident Report January-June 2016, published on Thursday, recorded 557 anti-Semitic incidents in this time period, compared to 500 anti-Semitic incidents during the first half of 2015.

This total of 557 incidents is the second-highest CST has ever recorded in the January-June period of any year. The highest number of attacks was recorded in the first half of 2009, when 629 incidents were recorded, due to anti-Semitic reactions to Israel’s counter-terrorism operation in Gaza at the beginning of the year.

The CST says it cannot point to any single cause for the increase in anti-Semitic incidents, most of which came in April, May and June.

This was a period when anti-Semitism, racism and extremism were reported and discussed prominently in the national media and in public debate surrounding the Brexit referendum and in wake of the Labour Party’s several anti-Semitism scandals.

The CST underscored the shift in anti-Semitic attacks to social media, which has become “an essential tool for coordinated campaigns of anti-Semitic harassment, abuse and threats directed at Jewish politicians, student activists and other individuals,” often using neo-Nazi content. CST recorded 133 such incidents, which consist of 24 per cent of the total of recorded attacks. The volume of such incidents is estimated to be much higher, as only reported incidents were recorded in the report.

The 557 recorded anti-Semitic incidents included 41 physical anti-Semitic assaults, 32 incidents of Damage & Desecration of Jewish property; 431 incidents of Abusive Behaviour, including verbal abuse, graffiti, abuse via social media and hate mail; 43 direct threats; and 10 cases of mass-mailed anti-Semitic leaflets or emails.

Over three-quarters of the 557 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester, where the two largest Jewish communities in the UK reside.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd condemned “the deplorable rise in anti-Semitic hate incidents.”

“It is vital that every community which contributes to making us Great Britain has the protection it needs,” she said.

The government has allocated 13.4 million British pounds (appr. 17.6-million USD) in funding for security measures at Jewish sites.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News