UK watchdog: 2016 had highest-ever levels of antisemitism

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February 2, 2017 04:46

Britain's antisemitism watchdog records 1,309 antisemitic incidents nationwide.

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AN ISRAELI FLAG stained with fake blood at a pro-Palestinian rally in London.

AN ISRAELI FLAG stained with fake blood at a pro-Palestinian rally in London.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

More antisemitic incidents were recorded in 2016 than ever before, Britain’s antisemitism watchdog reported on Wednesday.

The Community Security Trust, a charity dedicated to protecting British Jews, has been recording antisemitic incidents since 1984.

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In 2016, the group recorded 1,309 antisemitic incidents nationwide, a 36% increase from the 960 incidents in 2015. The previous record was the 1,182 incidents CST recorded in 2014.

Verbal abuse targeting visibly Jewish people in public was the single most common type of incident recorded in 2016, comprising 29% of the total. Twenty-two percent of the antisemitic incidents were perpetrated via social media, 8% through violent assaults and roughly 5% consisted of damage and desecration of Jewish property.

The CST said there was no obvious single cause for the record number of incidents in 2016, noting that in the past specific “trigger events” had led to spikes in anti-Jewish actions. “In contrast, there was no single, sudden trigger event in 2016, and the high number of incidents was spread uniformly through most of the year,” the group noted.

Looking at a longer time frame, CST recorded an average of 105 antisemitic incidents per month from July 2014 to 2016, compared to an average of 50 incidents per month between January 2012 and June 2014. Antisemitic incidents per month doubled in the last four years.

The organization concluded that the high levels of antisemitism were the result of an atmosphere resulting from a combination of factors and events, coupled with a higher likelihood that incidents would be reported to the police or the CST in recent years.

The CST highlighted the following factors: the conflict in Gaza and Israel in the summer of 2014; terrorist attacks on Jewish communities in France and Denmark in 2015, and other terrorism in Europe; and in 2016, high profile allegations of antisemitism in the British Labour Party; and a perceived increase in racism and xenophobia.

CST Chief Executive David Delew remarked that “while Jewish life in the country remains “overwhelmingly positive, this heightened level of antisemitism is deeply worrying and it appears to be getting worse. Worst of all is that, for various reasons, some people clearly feel more confident to express their antisemitism publicly than they did in the past.” He said that CST would continue to support the victims of antisemitism and called on others to join the group in confronting the phenomenon. Understanding UK anti-Semitism on Holocaust Remembrance Day

John Mann, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism and a Labour MP, described the figures as “very worrying.”

“The APPG Against Antisemitism will ensure that British institutions are robust in confronting and resisting antisemitism. The rise of nationalist populism and a failure to boldly oppose antisemitism are both contributing factors to this increase that must be challenged by us all.”

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Amber Rudd called antisemitism “a deplorable form of hatred that has absolutely no place in a tolerant, open and diverse Britain that works for everyone.”

She noted that the government is providing £13.4 million to protect Jewish sites, has improved police recording of religious hate crime, and last year published the Hate Crime Action Plan to set out further action.

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