Anti-Semitic hate incidents soar to record high in UK

Britain's Jewish community enduring "unacceptable" levels of abuse and violence.

Record number of anti-semitic hate incidents reported in first six months of 2017Newsweek

Anti-Jewish incidents rose to a record high in the UK in the first six months of 2017, a new report by Britain's anti-Semitism watchdog has revealed.

There were 767 acts of anti-Semitism recorded nationwide between January and June this year, a 30% increase compared with 2016, according to research by the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity monitoring anti-Jewish acts in the UK. This is the highest total ever recorded across a six-month period and a 212% rise on the same period a decade before, when there were 246 incidents.

In 2016, the year of the bitter Brexit referendum, anti-Semitic instances rose 42% in a year, with 1,309 incidents recorded, compared with 924 the previous year.

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The authors of the CST report acknowledge that "improvements in reporting of anti-Semitism" may have contributed to the overall increase, but say that this alone does not explain "the scale or breadth" of the problem.

A spokesperson for the CST, Dave Rich, told IBTimes UK that there is "no simple answer" why the number of incidents is so high.

"Previously when we have seen record totals they have usually been linked to particular events such as wars in Israel and Gaza, but that is not the case this year," he said.

"Nor is it down to better reporting from what we can tell. It seems that there is simply more anti-Semitic hate crime happening.

"Perhaps this is because anti-Semitism has been a prominent issue in the media and politics over the past year or two, or because of wider divisions and tensions in society that have led to increases in other types of hate crime as well."

Eighty of the incidents involved physical assaults, almost 80% more than the previous year. There were 568 instances of abusive behaviour against Jewish people, with the majority involving damage to property, verbal aggression and abuse on social media.

Jewish Labour MPs, including Ruth Smeeth and Luciana Berger, were also targeted by online trolls last year. Smeeth has said that she was called a "CIA/MI5/Mossad informant" and a "f*****g traitor" on Twitter.

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Simon Johnson, CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council, said more should be done to tackle "vile and disgusting anti-Semitic online abuse" and called on social media companies such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to ramp up efforts to police their platforms.

MPs condemned the "worrying rise" in anti-Semitism and vowed to do more to tackle "bigotry and hate" in Britain.

"One such incident is one too many," Home Secretary Amber Rudd said. "[The government] will continue to do everything we can to stamp out the division and hatred that blights our communities. That is why we are providing £13.4m to protect Jewish sites and made available £900,000 to tackle various types of hate crime."

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said the record number of anti-Semitic incidents was "completely unacceptable" but added that it was "encouraging" that "Jewish communities are more confident in coming forward."

Anti-Semitic graffiti which appeared in Southwick

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