Antisemitic graffiti scrawled on a bus stop in London during 2018. Photo: CST.
Antisemitic incidents rose to a record high in the United Kingdom in 2018, according to the annual report of the Jewish communal body tasked with overseeing the community’s security.
The Community Security Trust (CST) recorded 1,652 antisemitic incidents nationwide in 2018, the highest annual total of antisemitic incidents the organization has ever recorded, during a year when headlines about antisemitism in the UK’s opposition Labour Party as well as political tensions in the Middle East appeared on a regular basis.
CST recorded 1,420 antisemitic incidents in 2017 and 1,375 in 2016, both of which were also record annual totals in a data collection process that goes back to 1984. CST recorded over 100 antisemitic incidents in every month of 2018, the first time this has ever happened in a single calendar year.
“This pattern of consistently high incident totals suggests an enduring situation in which people with antisemitic attitudes appear to be more confident to express their views, while incident victims and reporters may be more motivated to report the antisemitism they experience or encounter,” a CST statement accompanying the report observed.
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The report noted that the highest monthly totals in 2018 came in May, with 182 antisemitic incidents; April, with 151 incidents; August, with 150 incidents; and September, with 148 incidents. “It is likely that these higher monthly totals were partly caused by reactions to political events in the UK and overseas, involving the Labour Party and violence on the border of Israel and Gaza, during those months,” the CST statement said.
CST highlighted 148 antisemitic incidents over the last year “that were examples of, or took place in the immediate context of, arguments over alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party.”
The organization said: “Of these 148 incidents, 49 occurred in August, 16 in September and 15 in April. These were all months in which allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party attracted significant media and political attention.”
The most common single type of incident recorded by CST in 2018 involved verbal abuse randomly directed at visibly Jewish people in public. In 483 incidents, the victims were Jewish people, male or female, attacked or abused while going about their daily business in public places. In at least 224 incidents, the victims were visibly Jewish, usually due to their religious or traditional clothing, school uniform or jewelry bearing Jewish symbols. A total of 724 incidents involved verbal antisemitic abuse.
Violent attacks were down, however. CST recorded a 17 per cent decrease in the number of violent antisemitic assaults, from 149 in 2017 to 123 in 2018. One of these violent incidents was classified by CST as ‘Extreme Violence’, which means it involved potential grievous bodily harm (GBH) or a threat to life.
Nearly 75 percent of the incidents occurred in and around London and Manchester, home to the two largest UK Jewish communities. Antisemitic incidents were also recorded in Liverpool, Glasgow, Leeds, Sheffield and other cities.
In terms of establishing the identity of the perpetrators, the CST report obtained relevant information in 502 of the incidents recorded.
“Of these, 300 offenders (60 per cent) were described as ‘White – North European’; 18 offenders (four per cent) were described as ‘White – South European’; 73 offenders (15 per cent) were described as ‘Black’; 64 offenders (13 per cent) were described as ‘South Asian’; three offenders (0.5 per cent) were described as ‘Far East or South East Asian’; and 44 offenders (nine per cent) were described as ‘Arab or North African,’” the CST report said.
The UK’s Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, said the antisemitic acts were “utterly despicable and have no place in society.”
Said Javid: “The Jewish community should not have to tolerate these attacks and we are doing all we can to rid society of these poisonous views.”
Labour parliamentarian John Mann, who chairs the British parliament’s cross-party group against antisemitism, commented that the CST’s figures were “not surprising, indeed they are predictable.”
“If you consider the whole antisemitic onslaught on social media as just one incident then, in fact, the problem is bigger than the incident figures suggest,” Mann declared in a statement. “It is now time for everyone in parliament to stand up, be counted and to stand alongside CST in the fight against antisemitism.”
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