Anti-Semitic Incidents in UK Rise 11 Percent in First Half of 2016

Anti-Semitic graffiti at a London school. (London Shomrim)
Anti-Semitic graffiti at a London school. (London Shomrim)

The first six months of 2016 saw an 11 percent increase in anti-Semitic hate incidents recorded in the U.K., compared to the same period in 2015, according to figures released this week by the Community Security Trust (CST).

CST recorded 557 anti-Semitic incidents nationwide during the first half of 2016, compared to 500 anti-Semitic incidents during the first six months of 2015. This total of 557 incidents is the second-highest CST has ever recorded in the January-June period of any year. CST has recorded anti-Semitic incidents since 1984.

A further 364 reports were received by CST between January and June 2016, but were not deemed to be anti-Semitic and are thus not included in this total.

There is no obvious single cause for the increase in recorded anti-Semitic incidents, most of which came in April, May and June, when CST recorded 99, 125 and 112 incidents respectively. The 125 anti-Semitic incidents recorded in May 2016 was the fourth-highest monthly total ever recorded by CST, and the 112 incidents recorded in June was the sixth-highest monthly total ever recorded. This was a period when anti-Semitism, racism and extremism were reported and discussed prominently in the national media and in public debate.

The long-term trend shows that the number of anti-Semitic incidents has remained at a relatively high level since the summer of 2014, when the U.K. saw a large spike in anti-Semitic incidents in relation to the conflict in Israel and Gaza that year. Since then, average monthly anti-Semitic incident totals have ranged between 80 and 100 anti-Semitic incidents per month, whereas in the two years before that summer they ranged between 40 and 60 incidents per month.

The 557 recorded anti-Semitic incidents included 41 violent anti-Semitic assaults, a 13 percent fall from the first half of 2015. None of these violent incidents were classified by CST as “Extreme Violence.”

The most common single type of incident in the first six months of 2016 involved verbal abuse randomly directed at visibly Jewish people in public. In 195 incidents, the victims were Jewish people, male or female, attacked or abused while going about their daily business in public places. In at least 87 of these incidents, the victims were visibly Jewish, usually due to their religious or traditional clothing, school uniform or jewelery bearing Jewish symbols.

Over three-quarters of the 557 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester, the two largest Jewish communities in the U.K. However, these two cities saw opposing trends during this period. CST recorded 379 anti-Semitic incidents in Greater London, a rise of 62 percent from the same period in 2015, but in Greater Manchester CST recorded 62 anti-Semitic incidents, a fall of 54 percent. Beyond these two centers, CST recorded 116 anti-Semitic incidents in 52 locations around the U.K., including 18 in Hertfordshire, 10 in Leeds, six in Liverpool and five in Brighton and Hove.

CST Chief Executive David Delew said, “This rise in reported anti-Semitism comes at a time when division, intolerance and prejudice appear to be deepening within our society. Reversing this worrying trend requires real leadership from all political parties, and for the social media companies to take their share of the responsibility.”

Home Secretary Amber Rudd MP said, “I condemn the deplorable rise in anti-Semitic hate incidents in the first half of this year and will continue to work with law enforcement partners and with the Jewish community to ensure their safety and security. It is vital that every community which contributes to making us Great Britain has the protection it needs. This is why the government is providing £13.4 million of funding for security measures at Jewish sites and why last week I published our Hate Crime Action Plan, setting out a series of measures to prevent vile attacks such as these.”

All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Anti-Semitism Chair John Mann MP said, “This is a worrying rise in incidents set against a backdrop of increasing hate crime across the country. The message should go out to everyone that we will not stand for anti-Semitism, perpetrators of hate crimes against Jews will be caught and prosecuted, and the bystanders must be educated. Britain should expect better than this. Now that the Chakrabarti inquiry into anti-Semitism has concluded I want to see decisive action. I think all parties should adopt the recommendations of her report and that anyone using the word Zionism as a term of abuse should be immediately expelled from the Labour Party and indeed all other parties.”

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