A record number of anti-Semitic incidents have been recorded in the UK, with a watchdog that aims to protect Britain’s Jews warning of growing “hatred and anger”.
The Community Security Trust (CST) reported 767 anti-Semitic incidents, mainly assaults or abusive behaviour, in the first six months of the year. That represents a 30% increase from the same period in 2016.
“Some of this may be down to improved reporting, but it is sadly clear that the overall situation has deteriorated”, said David Delew, CST’s Chief Executive
“Anti-Semitism is having an increasing impact on the lives of British Jews and the hatred and anger that lies behind it is spreading”.
In total about three in four of the attacks so far in 2017 have taken place in London or Manchester, Britain’s two largest Jewish areas.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid described the rise in anti-Semitic incidents as “completely unacceptable” and vowed to ensure offenders were subject to the full force of the law.
“Everyone in this country has a right to live without fear of abuse or attack and we must as a nation firmly condemn this hatred and all other forms of bigotry”, he added.
The group said 80 of the incidents involved physical attacks, with others including verbal abuse, vandalism, hate mail, graffiti and online abuse. Abuse on social media made up 142 of the anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, up from 136 in 2016.
“Social media has become an essential tool for those who wish to harass, abuse or threaten Jewish public figures and institutions”, the CST said.
The trust said 51 of the incidents were linked to damage or desecration of Jewish property, while 27 involved face-to-face verbal abuse. Ten of those threats featured knives, bats or cars.
The CST also said 23 percent of the incidents were politically motivated, with far-right leanings connected to the majority of those incidents.
Mark Gardner, head of communications for the charity, said they had struggled to pinpoint the causes behind the rise, but said an increase in anti-Semitism could be an indicator of the state of society as a whole.
“It may be that it sits with a general rise in racism or just an increase in the division in society”, he said.
“There is an anger or frustration that seems to be the ambient mood out there”.