Antisemitic incidents in UK at record high for third year in a row

Jewish community leaders and politicians have condemned a third successive year with a record number of antisemitic incidents.

Last year, 1,652 incidents, a 16% increase on 2017, were logged by the Community Security Trust, which has monitored antisemitism for 35 years and provides security to the UK Jewish community.

The CST said the spread of incidents throughout the year, with more than 100 a month, indicated a general atmosphere of intolerance and prejudice. However, there were also spikes related to events in Gaza and antisemitism in the Labour party.

The biggest number of incidents were in April and May (151 and 182 respectively), when Palestinians protested at the border fence between Gaza and Israel. May was the highest monthly total recorded since August 2014, when there was a major conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

In total, there were 173 incidents recorded that explicitly showed anti-Israel motivation alongside antisemitism, the CST said.

It also recorded 148 incidents over the year that were explicitly related to arguments over alleged antisemitism in Labour, with 49 in August when there was significant media and political attention on the issue.

Last year, there was a big increase in the proportion of antisemitic incidents that used political or extremist imagery, from 30% to 45%. More than 450 incidents involved language or imagery relating to the far right or the Nazis.

The most common type of incident involved verbal antisemitic abuse directed at Jewish people, with 724 incidents. There was a fall of 17% in the number of violent antisemitic assaults, from 149 in 2017 to 123 last year, including one classified by the CST as “extreme violence”. There were 78 incidents of damage or desecration to Jewish property.

Three-quarters of the total number of incidents were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester, home to the two largest Jewish communities in the UK.

Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the country’s EJC affiliate, said the figures were very worrying for Jews living in the UK. “Overall, the UK remains a happy place for its Jewish community, but this reports shows that there is no room for complacency,” she said.

“Defeating the evil of antisemitism will take a concerted effort by the country’s political leadership, in all parties, and civil society.”

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