Worst year on record as an­ti­semitism soars

Jew-hate up 36 per cent To­tal of 1,309 in­ci­dents in 2016 107 vi­o­lent as­saults

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY LEE HARPIN

THE NUM­BER of an­ti­semitic in­ci­dents in Bri­tain reached the high­est level on record in 2016, ac­cord­ing to new fig­ures pub­lished by the Com­mu­nity Se­cu­rity Trust.

The CST’s an­nual sta­tis­tics show there were 1,309 in­ci­dents of Jew ha­tred last year — a 36 per cent in­crease on the pre­vi­ous 12 months.

While no sin­gle fac­tor is blamed for the alarm­ing rise in hate in­ci­dents, ex­perts said the in­crease came amid an “over­all cli­mate” of racism, in­clud­ing the high-pro­file al­le­ga­tions of an­ti­semitism within the Labour Party.

The CST’s An­ti­semitic In­ci­dents Re­port 2016, pub­lished on Thurs­day, re­vealed that there were 107 vi­o­lent an­ti­semitic as­saults last year — an in­crease of 29 per cent com­pared to 2015.

There were 81 in­ci­dents of dam­age and des­e­cra­tion of Jewish prop­erty, in­clud­ing at­tacks on syn­a­gogues, ceme­ter­ies and homes — up 25 per cent on sim­i­lar in­ci­dents in the pre­vi­ous year.

Abu­sive be­hav­iour ac­counted for 1,006 in­ci­dents — in­clud­ing ver­bal abuse, an­ti­semitic graf­fiti, abuse of Jews via so­cial me­dia and one-off cases of hate mail.

The re­port also de­tailed how 100 in­ci­dents in­volved di­rect threats to Jewish in­di­vid­u­als, fam­i­lies or or­gan­i­sa­tions.

These to­tals for abu­sive be­hav­iour and threats were the high­est CST has ever recorded.

The pre­vi­ous record high of 1,182 an­ti­semitic in­ci­dents was recorded by the char­ity in 2014 — but the con­flict in Gaza and Is­rael that sum­mer was recog­nised as a ma­jor fac­tor in trig­ger­ing that surge.

The num­ber of cases re­ported to the po­lice by CST is also at an all-time high — with 34 per cent of in­ci­dents be­ing passed on for crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion in 2016 com­pared to 32 per cent in 2015 and 30 per cent in 2014.

Dave Rich, Deputy Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the CST, said: “I think there is an over­all cli­mate rather than one spe­cific thing that is re­spon­si­ble for the rise in in­ci­dents.

“At the end of April you had Ken Liv­ing­stone and the MP Naz Shah both be­ing suspended by the Labour Party and that put an­ti­semitism firmly on the front pages.

“Low and be­hold, from April to May is when you get the big­gest jump in in­ci­dents of the whole year. Then the fol­low­ing month you had the Brexit vote, which kept the pot boil­ing, so to speak. It’s a com­bi­na­tion of things that are to blame.”

Re­spond­ing to the re­port, Home Sec­re­tary Am­ber Rudd said: “An­ti­semitism is a de­plorable form of ha­tred that has ab­so­lutely no place in a tol­er­ant, open and di­verse Bri­tain that works for ev­ery­one. It is vi­tal we en­sure the safety and se­cu­rity of our Jewish com­mu­nity and this gov­ern­ment will con­tinue to do all we can to stamp out these vile at­tacks and en­cour­age those who ex­pe­ri­ence them to come for­ward.”

Labour’s deputy leader Tom Wat­son said: “The find­ings of this re­port are

I WAS not sur­prised when CST’s an­a­lysts came to me with our lat­est sta­tis­tics, show­ing a record high num­ber of an­ti­semitic in­ci­dents re­ported in 2016.

I knew the re­lent­less pres­sure that our teams had been un­der, re­spond­ing to over 100 an­ti­semitic in­ci­dents per month, ur­gently pro­vid­ing se­cu­rity re­sponses, vic­tim sup­port and li­ai­son with po­lice.

I saw how many times an­ti­semitism was head­line news last year, with all the stress that brought for our com­mu­nity, for my CST staff and for our CST vol­un­teers.

So, the record high was no sur­prise, but my heart still sank when it was con­firmed, be­cause CST’s goal is to pro­tect our com­mu­nity and fa­cil­i­tate its confident, open way of life. We will never con­ceal the real­ity of an­ti­sem- itism, but we will never hype it ei­ther. I fear this record high will now com­bine with last year’s an­ti­semitism head­lines, fur­ther ob­scur­ing the vi­tal con­text that most of the time, Bri­tish Jewish life is over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive and vi­brant: even if that daily real­ity doesn’t make the news.

There is an­other rea­son for my con­cern. Pre­vi­ous record highs could ba­si­cally be ex­plained by Mid­dle East trig­ger events. This did not make the in­ci­dents in any way bet­ter. In­deed, at those times, in­ci­dents were of­ten more vi­o­lent than what we saw in 2016, but the feel­ing re­mained that this was some­how a dif­fer­ent sort of an­ti­semitism, what some peo­ple called “the new an­ti­semitism”.

Make no mis­take, an­other con­flict in the Mid­dle East will raise all of that ha­tred again, but 2016 was not “the new an­ti­semitism”. Rather, the record fig­ures ap­pear to show a lid be­ing lifted off plain old an­ti­semitism. It is basic racism, as if what we hoped was in­creas­ingly un­sayable is now com­ing out once again.

In the decade be­fore 2016, we sur­passed 100 in­ci­dents in a month on six oc­ca­sions. In 2016, from May to De­cem­ber, it hap­pened eight months in a row. As I write this col­umn, noth­ing has changed this last month. It is to­tally un­prece­dented. We are deal­ing with some­thing that I am de­ter­mined not to call a new nor­mal, but it risks be­com­ing ex­actly that.

All of this makes it more im­por­tant than ever that po­lice, gov­ern­ment and pros­e­cu­tors not only do their work, but are seen do­ing it.

At CST, no­body is run­ning scared. We will con­tinue en­cour­ag­ing our com­mu­nity to lead its Jewish life. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, we will keep fight­ing an­ti­semitism at ev­ery turn. Ul­ti­mately, we can only ever be as strong as our com­mu­nity al­lows us to be and I in­vite you all to sup­port us in our work.

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