UK parliamentarians express shock, concern over report showing rise in anti-Semitism

A UK parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism, launched in response to a spike in hate crimes against Jews, confirms a shocking reality.

Anti-semitic graffiti in the UK

Anti-semitic graffiti in the UK. (Photo:

Jews in the UK are right to be concerned, according to a report by the British All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism. The report confirms a rise in anti-Semitic language and incidents, both in the UK and Europe, under the pretext of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and proposes a series of measures that should be taken to promote the safety of the UK’s 260,000 Jews.

The Inquiry was formed in response to the spike in anti-Semitic incidents in the UK in the wake of last summer’s Operation Protective Edge, which was launched in order to stop the indiscriminate firing of rockets at Israeli civilians and to destroy tunnels dug by Hamas for carrying out terrorist attacks. According to the Community Security Trust, a British charity dedicated to the security of Jews in the UK, the number of anti-Semitic incidents doubled in 2014 to reach 1,168. This figure was confirmed by police reports to be generally accurate, the report noted.

British Members of Parliament praised the timeliness of the report. Prime Minister David Cameron described it as “hugely important” and said the fight against anti-Semitism goes “right to the heart of what we stand for as a country.” Labour Party leader Ed Miliband said the report raised “important areas for action to eradicate this awful form of hatred,” adding that the attack on the kosher supermarket in Paris was “stark reminder of the evil that antisemitism can create.”

Anti-Semitic Rhetoric: Three Categories

UK anti-Semitism report.

UK anti-Semitism report.

Anti-Semitic incidents included assault and abuse, demonstrations, interruption of the sale of kosher goods and cultural boycotts, according to the report. Anti-Semitic rhetoric tended to fall into three categories: Nazi and Holocaust analogies; accusations of dual loyalty and malign influence; and distinguishing between “good” Jews and “bad” Jews.  Social media was identified as playing a major role in promoting and organizing anti-Semitism.

Several proposals were made by the report to combat anti-Semitism, the most radical of which would be to restrict the use of social media by anti-Semites and other racists. “There is an allowance in the law for banning or blocking individuals from certain aspects of internet communication in relation to sexual offences. Informal feedback we have received from policy experts indicates that this is a potential area of exploration for prosecutors in relation to hate crime,” it said.

natan sharansky

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky. (Photo: Knesset)

Other recommendations include providing government funding for synagogue security, conducting research to better understand the nature of anti-Semitism on social media, increasing cooperation between the police and Jewish security organizations and providing guidance to teachers regarding Holocaust education and language used in discussing the Middle East.

In Israel, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky praised the Inquiry. “For many years, the Jewish Agency published its own reports on European anti-Semitism, but the data in these reports was disputed and, at times, rejected in disbelief. Recently, however, surveys and reports in France and the UK have started confirming information we released years ago. National governments and civil society now recognize the gravity of the situation.”

Nonetheless, British Jewry remains skeptical of the future. A survey last month of Jews in the UK showed that a quarter of respondents had considered emigration in the past two years and over half believed that the Jews have no future in Europe.