Foreign Secretary Hammond: Gaza war could lead to rise in UK anti-Semitic attacks

"Broad swathe of British public opinion feels deeply disturbed by what it is seeing on its TV screens coming out of Gaza,” Hammond says.

August 3, 2014 14:16
1 minute read.
British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond

British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Britain's Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond is concerned that Israel's military offensive in the Gaza Strip could lead to an increase in anti-Semitic attacks in Britain.

Hammond raised the concerns in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph on Thursday, saying he has already "seen certainly an upturn in anti-Semitic rhetoric." 

He said the British public is “deeply disturbed” by the suffering of the people of Gaza. 

“The British public has a strong sense that the situation of the civilian population in Gaza is intolerable and must be addressed — and we agree with them.” 

"What has struck me most looking at my own constituency in-box as well as the thousands of emails that I’m receiving from the general public here is that it isn’t just the Muslim community that’s reacting to this. It’s a broad swathe of British public opinion that feels deeply disturbed by what it is seeing on its television screens coming out of Gaza,” Hammond told the Telegraph.  

A UK Jewish advisory body said last week that anti-Semitic incidents in Britain had risen to a near-record level since the start of Operation Protective Edge.

The Community Security Trust, which advises Britain’s estimated 260,000 Jews on safety, said figures showed a significant rise in such incidents for the first six months of the year.

“There is no excuse for this wave of racist intimidation and violence, and we call upon all good people to unequivocally condemn it,” said CST spokesman Mark Gardner.

Although the overall total this year has increased, there were fewer violent assaults recorded – down 32 percent to 22% – with the majority of incidents related to verbal abuse, graffiti, and abuse via social media.

British MP John Mann, chairman of a parliamentary group against anti-Semitism, said the report was troubling.

“From the feedback we are receiving, it is likely that the volume of anti-Semitic incidents will increase significantly before the year’s end,” he said.

Gardner said the rise in recorded anti-Semitic events this year might reflect better reporting as well as more actual incidents.

JTA and Sam Sokol contributed to this report.

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