The Jewish Chronicle

Bigger picture is a concern

- BY MARK GARDNER Mark Gardner is Director of Communicat­ions at CST

I AM writing this piece about CST’s latest six monthly antisemiti­c incidents report after yet another very long day throughout which colleagues and I have again done our utmost to help our community fight against Labour’s antisemiti­sm problem.

I say this because it is extraordin­ary that CST staff and our partners at the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and in Westminste­r are spending so much time on antisemiti­sm in the Labour Party, rather than in the far-right, or among extreme Islamists.

It does not mean antisemiti­sm has magically disappeare­d from those places. Indeed, Jews have just featured as potential targets in three terror trials, two of them neo-Nazi, one Jihadist.

So, not only is the Labour antisemiti­sm controvers­y an utter disgrace in its own right, it also obstructs and distracts from our community’s ability to deal with other antisemiti­c forces that remain as dangerous as ever.

It all goes to show you cannot understand or measure antisemiti­sm by reference to statistics alone. The Labour leader’s office does not appear in the antisemiti­c incidents total, neither do the terrorist trials, nor does Brexit, or Donald Trump, or whatever Israel is alleged to have done, or actually did. But all of these things matter, because antisemiti­sm does not arise out of thin air. As Jews, we know that antisemiti­sm reflects the state of society, that it is a warning sign, it tells you what is going on. So, what is going on?

In summary, we had eight per cent fewer incidents than over the same six months last year. Sounds good? Well, yes, but it is still the second worst year on record.

The worst months? April and May. Why? Because that is when both Labour and Israel were in the news for all the wrong reasons. Overall, it is the monthly trend, not the annual snapshot, that matters.

Every month in 2018, we recorded more than 100 antisemiti­c incidents. Only twice since April 2016 have we recorded under 100 incidents. May 2016 was peak Ken Livingston­e. June 2016 was the Brexit vote. In 24 of the 26 months since April 2016 we have seen more than 100 incidents. By comparison, in the 120 previous months (ie ten years), we exceeded 100 incidents only six times.

This is the bigger picture. It is a deep concern. It reflects a divided society of which Jeremy Corbyn and Brexit are two manifestat­ions, but they are not the only ones.

I fear that all of us may face many more long days and nights before things properly turn around.

You cannot measure Jew-hate by statistics alone’

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