UK ‘sees record’ of anti-Semitic incidents in 2014
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UK ‘sees record’ of anti-Semitic incidents in 2014

Monitoring group says sharp increase partly due to summer war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza

Illustrative photo of Orthodox Jews in the Stamford Hill section of London (CC BY-dcaseyphoto/Flickr)
Illustrative photo of Orthodox Jews in the Stamford Hill section of London (CC BY-dcaseyphoto/Flickr)

A record number of anti-Semitic hate incidents were reported in Britain last year, fueled by the conflict in Israel and Gaza, a charity that monitors such crime reported on Thursday.

The Community Security Trust (CST), which records anti-Semitism and provides security for Britain’s Jewish community, said that 1,168 anti-Semitic incidents were reported over 2014.

It was more than double the 535 incidents seen in 2013, and the highest annual total seen since CST began records in 1984.

London police said a similar increase was recorded in their crime records, and that patrols had been increased in key areas.

British Home Secretary Theresa May called the report “deeply concerning” and said: “No one should live in fear because of their beliefs or who they are. I am committed to working with Jewish community leaders and law enforcement to tackle anti-Semitism. Britain without its Jews would not be Britain… There is still some way to go, but we are listening, and we are taking robust action against anti-Semitism wherever we find it.”

And Prime Minister David Cameron said, “In my view we need to do everything we can to help this community to feel safe and secure in our country. I would hate it for British Jews not to feel that they have a home here in Britain, safe, secure and a vital part of our community.”

The July and August conflict in Israel and Gaza caused a spike in incidents that were the biggest factor in the record high, the CST said.

The most common type of incident was verbal abuse directed at Jewish people in public.

Other incidents included damage and desecration of Jewish property, anti-Semitic graffiti, threats and anti-Semitic abuse by mass-mailed letters or emails.

In one case in London, a victim was struck with a glass and a baseball bat and called a “Jewish ****”.

“Last year’s large increase in recorded incidents shows just how easily anti-Semitic attitudes can erupt into race hate abuse, threats and attacks,” said CST chief executive David Delew.

“Thankfully most of the incidents were not violent but they were still shocking and upsetting for those who suffered them, and for the wider Jewish community.”

A recent survey has found that Britons feel more “unfavorable” to Israel than any other country worldwide except North Korea.

The survey — taken in August and published Thursday by Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs — showed a massive surge in negative attitudes toward Israel since the previous such study, two years earlier. Thirty-five percent of Britons said they “feel especially unfavorable towards” Israel in the 2014 survey, compared to 17% in 2012.

That figure meant that Israel is regarded more unfavorably by Britons than Iran — 33% in the 2014 survey, compared to 45% in 2012. Only North Korea fares worse — regarded as especially unfavorable by 47% in 2014, compared to 40% in 2012.

Commenting on the dramatic rise in hostile attitudes to Israel, the compilers noted that, “The survey was conducted in August 2014 at a time when… Israel was engaged in a military operation in Gaza against Hamas that caused large numbers of civilian casualties.”

In January European Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans said the bloc faces a “huge challenge” to reassure Jews about their future in Europe after Islamist attacks in Paris.

“Today we see in some of our member states that a majority of the Jewish community is not sure that they have a future in Europe,” he said.

“I think this is a huge challenge to the very foundation of European integration,” he added.

He said the issue was more important than the single European currency or internal markets or other initiatives.

It is a “fundamental value” that everyone has a place in Europe no matter what his or her creed or background is.

Timmermans said Europeans must use education and other tools “to make sure that we don’t lose part of our population to extremism, to fanaticism, to exclusion.”

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