A record number of antisemitic incidents has been recorded in the UK for the first six months of this year by the Community Security Trust.
There were 892 reported incidents between January and June, a 10% increase on the same period of 2018 – which also had a record high – said the CST, a charity that monitors antisemitism and provides security for the British Jewish community.
More than a third of the incidents involved social media, again a significantly higher proportion than in 2018. The CST said the data was likely to understate the scale of the problem, as campaigns directed at individuals could comprise hundreds or even thousands of tweets, images or posts within a concentrated timespan, but be recorded by the trust as a single incident.
“This is the third year in a row that CST has seen an increase in reports of antisemitic incidents,” said David Delew, the trust’s chief executive. “The problem is spreading across the country and online. It reflects deepening divisions in our society and it is causing increasing anxiety in the Jewish community. It will take people of all communities and backgrounds standing together to turn this tide of hate around.”
Almost two-thirds of the incidents took place in Greater London and Greater Manchester, home to the two largest Jewish populations in the UK. But there was a fall of about 1% in incidents in those two areas, whereas in other places, in Hertfordshire, Merseyside, Gateshead, Leeds, Birmingham and Wales, the trust recorded an increase.
The number of violent antisemitic assaults rose from 62 in the first half of 2018 to 85 in the same period of 2019. None were classified by the CST as “extreme violence”.
There were 38 incidents of damage and desecration of Jewish property; 710 of abusive behaviour, including verbal abuse, graffiti, abuse via social media and one-off cases of hate mail; 49 direct threats; and 10 cases of mass-mailed leaflets or emails.
Sixty-two public figures became targets, as well as 102 Jewish community organisations, events and commercial premises.
The highest monthly totals were in February and March, with 182 and 169 incidents respectively. These were months when issues relating to Jews and antisemitism were prominent because of the continuing controversy over antisemitism in the Labour party, the CST said.
In those two months, the trust recorded 55 incidents specifically related to allegations of antisemitism in the Labour party.
Highlighting the number of incidents relating to alleged antisemitism in the Labour party, Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “This makes shameful reading for the party’s leadership. They must finally take the steps required to rid their party of this appalling racism. Defeating the evil of antisemitism will take a concerted effort by the country’s political leadership and civil society to ensure that this country remains a safe and happy place for the Jewish community.”
The trust has been recording antisemitic incidents since 1984, and it has shared its data with the National Police Chiefs’ Council since 2015.
Mark Hamilton of the NPCC said: “It can never be acceptable to abuse someone because of their ethnicity or religion, but we see that there are still far too many in our society who are prepared to act illegally, fuelled by global events, divisions in our own society, or by bigoted ideologies. The police will continue to improve our services to victims and to help bring offenders to justice.”