The first half of 2019 saw a precipitous rise in incidents targeting members of the UK Jewish community, Britain’s primary anti-Semitism watchdog stated in a new report released on Thursday.
According to the London-based Community Security Trust, which has been recording incidents since the early 1980s, the first six months of this year saw a record high total of 892 anti-Semitic incidents.
The group said it was the highest number of incidents it had ever recorded in the January-to-June period of any year and is a 10 percent increase from the 810 incidents recorded during the same period in 2018; which was itself a record high for a six-month period. There was a record annual total of 1,688 anti-Semitic incidents in the UK in 2018.
“This is the third year in a row that CST has seen an increase in reports of antisemitic incidents,” the group’s chief executive David Delew said in a statement. “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.”
There was a 37 percent increase in violent incidents compared to the same reporting period the previous year, the CST found, recording 85 anti-Semitic assaults during the first six months of 2019, up from 62 the previous year.
There were 323 incidents involving social media compared to 221 incidents online in the first half of 2018, an increase of 46 percent. However, the CST warned, “it is difficult to assess whether this reflects an increase in the amount of antisemitism online, or more reporting of the phenomenon.”
All told, there were 710 incidents of “abusive behavior, including verbal abuse, anti-Semitic graffiti, antisemitic abuse via social media and one-off cases of hate mail,” the CST reported.
February and March saw the highest levels of anti-Semitism so far this year, which the CST attributed to the prominence of issues related to the British Labour party’s anti-Semitism scandal during those months. In February, a number of Jewish Labour MPs quit the party over claims of anti-Semitism within its ranks.
Labour has grappled with anti-Semitism since its far-left leader Jeremy Corbyn was elected party chief in 2015, with fresh scrutiny coming after a number of former party officials accused him and his allies of interfering in efforts to address the issue, in a BBC program aired last month. Corbyn has come under prolonged attack — including from within the party — for allegedly allowing anti-Semitism to spread in the left-wing party and for refusing to adopt fully the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism in Labour’s new code of conduct.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for hate crime, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, expressed concern at the CST’s latest report, stating that “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, fueled by global events, divisions in our own society or by bigoted ideologies.”
“It is always concerning to see indicators of increased hate crime, unless we are confident that they reflect better reporting or recording. We will be working with analysts when the national crime data is released in autumn, to establish whether these increases reflect a greater incidence of hate crime or further improvements in reporting levels.”
Labour MP John Mann, the British government’s newly appointed anti-Semitism adviser, recently told The Times of Israel that “the Jewish community is the canary in the coal mine for humanity and for the safety and future of my grandchildren.”