U.K. Police: Antisemitism in London Soared During Gaza Crisis

LONDON -
Pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian demonstrators face off outside Downing Street in London. (REUTERS/Toby Melville, File)

Police recorded around four times as many antisemitic incidents in London during May’s Gaza crisis than at any time in the last three years, the city’s force said Thursday.

They reported 87 antisemitic incidents, 65 more than the previous highest monthly figure recorded since they began reporting the data in May 2018, London Metropolitan Police told Britain’s Press Association news agency.

The hostilities between Israel and Hamas claimed 253 Palestinian lives in 11 days from May 10, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, while Gaza rocket fire killed 13 Israelis.

Disturbances also broke out in the Palestinian territories and between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel during the conflict, which sparked protests across the world.

The crisis had repercussions for Jews in London, where the word “Hitler” was written on the roof of a block of flats and rocks were hurled at a Jewish home.

One resident in north London’s Stamford Hill neighborhood, which has a significant religious community, said the tires of more than 30 Jewish-owned cars were slashed.

The Community Security Trust (CST), a charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism, said 116 incidents across Britain had been reported in an 11-day period from May 8.

In May police arrested four people after footage emerged showing them shouting antisemitic abuse from a car. Two men were also charged in connection with an incident when a rabbi was struck on the head with a concrete brick.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the time condemned the “intolerable” spate of antisemitic incidents in a meeting with British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has increased police patrols in Jewish neighborhoods.

The CST recorded 1,668 antisemitic incidents in the U.K. in 2020 – its third-highest annual figure – and 1,813 in 2019.

Antisemitism accusations have dogged Britain’s main opposition Labour Party for years, particularly during the tenure of hard-left former leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Current leader Keir Starmer suspended Corbyn from the party last October after the latter’s refusal to fully accept a report by Britain’s human rights watchdog that criticized Labour’s antisemitism problems under his leadership.

And an independent investigation in May concluded that the ruling Conservative party had issues with Islamophobia among individuals and within local associations.