Reported antisemitic hate incidents in the United Kingdom hit a record high in 2018, with more than 100 recorded in every month of the year, according to the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity that fights antisemitism.
The total for 2018 — 1,652 incidents reported nationwide — was a 16% increase on the previous year, and represented a record annual total for a third year running, according to the CST report. CST has been recording antisemitic incidents since 1984.
Last year was the first time that more than 100 incidents had been recorded in every month of a calendar year but the figures can be seen as part of a trend since January 2016, CST said in a media release accompanying the report.
“This pattern of consistently high incident totals suggests an enduring situation in which people with antisemitic attitudes appear to be more confident to express their views; while incident victims and reporters may be more motivated to report the antisemitism they experience or encounter,” it said.
The highest number of recorded incidents was in May, followed by April, August and September, CST said. “It is likely that these higher monthly totals were partly caused by reactions to political events in the UK and overseas, involving the Labour Party and violence on the border of Israel and Gaza, during those months.”
Allegations of antisemitism have dogged Britain’s opposition Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, since he took the helm in 2015 and came to a head last summer.
Corbyn has insisted that “people who hold anti-Semitic views have no place in the Labour Party” — long considered a natural home for British Jews — but continues to face accusations that he has done too little to stamp out antisemitism in the party’s ranks.
The most common form of reported incident “involved verbal abuse randomly directed at visibly Jewish people in public,” the charity said. However, there was a 17% decrease in the number of violent antisemitic assaults, from 149 in 2017 to 123 in 2018, the report said.
Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, said it was worried by the findings — but even more so by signs of significant under-reporting of anti-Semitic incidents, suggesting that the problem is larger still.
“We must all beware of the evil that can manifest when extremism is allowed to flourish unchallenged,” Kantor said, adding that the apparent correlation between spikes in incidents and the row over antisemitism in the Labour Party was shocking but “sadly unsurprising.”
“The time is now long overdue for Jeremy Corbyn to act once and for all to stamp out the scourge of antisemitism from his party,” he said.
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, also sounded the alarm over the CST figures, saying they are “very worrying” for Jews living in the UK.
“Overall, the UK remains a happy place for its Jewish community but this report 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. We must strive to make our country a just, safe and respectful society. There can be no room for racism and hatred.”