Anti-Semitic Hate Incidents Remain High in 2018 in U.K.

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

The number of anti-Semitic hate incidents in the United Kingdom fell by 8 percent in the first six months of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017, according to figures released by the Community Security Trust (CST).

CST, a charity that monitors anti-Semitism and provides security for the Jewish community in Britain, recorded 727 anti-Semitic incidents nationwide in the first six months of 2018, the second-highest total CST has ever recorded for the January-to-June period of any year. This is an 8 percent decrease from the 786 incidents recorded in the first half of 2017, which was the highest total CST has ever recorded for the January-to-June period, and was part of a record annual total of 1,414 anti-Semitic incidents during the whole calendar year of 2017. CST has recorded anti-Semitic incidents since 1984.

A further 340 reports of potential incidents were received by CST in the first six months of 2018, but were not deemed to be anti-Semitic and are not included in this total of 727 anti-Semitic incidents. Many of these 340 potential incidents involved suspicious activity or possible hostile reconnaissance at Jewish locations; criminal activity affecting Jewish people and buildings; and anti-Israel activity that did not include anti-Semitic language, motivation or targeting.

CST recorded over 100 anti-Semitic incidents in every one of the six months from January to June 2018, continuing a pattern of historically high monthly totals exceeding 100 incidents in all but two months since April 2016. This is unprecedented. For comparison, CST only recorded monthly totals above 100 incidents on six occasions in the decade prior to April 2016. This sustained high level of anti-Semitic incidents suggests an enduring situation in which people with anti-Semitic attitudes appear to be more confident to express their views; it may also be that incident victims and reporters are more motivated to report the anti-Semitism they experience or encounter.

The two highest monthly totals in the first half of 2018 came in April and May, which saw 139 and 160 anti-Semitic incidents respectively. It is likely that these higher monthly totals were partly in reaction to political events in the United Kingdom and overseas, involving the Labour Party and violence on the border of Israel and Gaza, during those months.

The issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party attracted significant media and political attention from late March into April 2018. CST recorded 34 anti-Semitic incidents in the first six months of 2018 that included explicit references to these events in the Labour Party, of which none occurred in January or February but 20 were recorded in March and April.

CST recorded 163 anti-Semitic incidents that involved social media in the first six months of 2018, comprising 22 percent of the overall total of 727 incidents, compared to 145 incidents on social media in the first half of 2017 (18 percent of the total). These totals are indicative and are likely to understate the scale of the problem. The number of incidents on social media recorded by CST in the second quarter of 2018 was roughly double the number recorded in the first three months of the year; whereas incidents involving verbal abuse – which is more likely to reflect street-level antisocial behavior rather than being politically motivated – increased by only 23 percent over the same period.

CST recorded a 26 percent decrease in the number of violent anti-Semitic assaults, from 80 in the first six months of 2017 to 59 in the first half of 2018.

The most common single type of incident recorded by CST in the first six months of 2018 involved verbal abuse directed at visibly Jewish people in public. In 180 incidents, the victims were Jewish people, male or female, attacked or abused while going about their daily business in public places. In at least 118 incidents, the victims were visibly Jewish, usually due to their religious or traditional clothing, school uniform or jewelry bearing Jewish symbols.

There were 43 incidents of damage and desecration of Jewish property in the first six months of 2018; 544 incidents of abusive behavior, including verbal abuse, anti-Semitic graffiti, anti-Semitic abuse via social media and one-off cases of hate mail; 53 direct anti-Semitic threats; and 28 cases of mass-mailed anti-Semitic leaflets or emails.

Three-quarters of the 727 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester, the two largest Jewish communities in the United Kingdom. CST recorded 419 anti-Semitic incidents in Greater London in the first half of 2018, a fall of 2 percent from the 428 incidents recorded in London in the first half of 2017. In Greater Manchester, CST recorded 124 anti-Semitic incidents, a fall of 17 percent from the 149 incidents recorded there in the first half of 2017. Beyond these two centers, CST recorded 184 anti-Semitic incidents in 65 different locations around the United Kingdom, including 27 in Hertfordshire, 18 in Gateshead, 11 in Leeds, nine in Glasgow, seven in Birmingham and six in Liverpool.

CST Chief Executive David Delew said, “Any fall in anti-Semitism is welcome, but these are the second-worst figures ever and continue a trend that has now lasted for over two years. This anti-Semitism is not a random event; it reflects the state of British politics and wider society. Each month we are seeing over 100 anti-Semitic incidents, and many more go unreported. We will keep working with all of our partners inside and outside the Jewish community to do all we can against anti-Semitism.”

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Hate Crime, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, said, “We are grateful to CST for the depth of work that goes into preparing these reports and also for the work its staff and volunteers do in support of victims. We know that all strands of hate crime are under-reported and trusted charities such as CST provide a valuable alternative option for those victims who do not wish to report direct to the police. We have a formal Information Sharing Agreement in place which ensures that their work informs policing decisions in real time, in order to help protect our communities. No one should have to face anti-Semitic hate crime, and I would encourage anyone who does to report it, either to the CST or to the police, by dialing 101 or online at www.report-it.org.uk.”