2015 third-worst year on record for UK anti-Semitic incidents, new figures show

There were 924 incidents of anti-Semitism reported to either the CST or the police during the course of the year.

Members of the Jewish community in north London  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Members of the Jewish community in north London
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The UK witnessed the third-highest number of anti-Semitic hate incidents in one year in 2015, according to figures from the Community Security Trust.
There were 924 incidents of anti-Semitism reported to either the CST or the police during the course of the year, the CST, a communal security organization for British Jews which also monitors anti-Semitism in the UK, said on Thursday.
This, however, constituted a 22 percent drop in incidents from 2014’s record high of 1,179 incidents, a spike CST attributed to the war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014. Israeli military operations frequently lead to a spike in anti-Semitism in the UK and other European countries.
The CST said it noticed a particular surge in reports in January and February of 2015.
This could reflect increased concern over anti-Semitic incidents among British Jews and a greater willingness to report them following the terrorist attacks on a Jewish supermarket in France in January that year and at a the Great Synagogue in Copenhagen in February.
Of the 924 recorded anti-Semitic incidents, 86 were violent anti-assaults, an increase of 6 percent from 2014 and the highest number of violent incidents since 2011, four of which were classified as of “Extreme Violence,” meaning they involved potential grievous bodily harm or threat to life.
There were 65 incidents of damage and desecration of Jewish property; 685 incidents of abusive behavior, including verbal abuse, anti-Semitic graffiti, anti-Semitic abuse via social media and oneoff cases of hate mail; 76 direct anti-Semitic threats; and 12 cases of mass-mailed anti-Semitic leaflets or emails. All of these decreased from the 2014 totals.
The most common single type of incident in 2015 involved verbal abuse randomly directed at visibly Jewish people in public.
In 354 incidents, the victims were Jews, male or female, attacked or abused while going about their daily business in public places. In at least 161 of these incidents, the victims were visibly Jewish, usually due to their religious or traditional clothing, school uniform or jewelry bearing Jewish symbols.
“While a fall in anti-Semitic incidents should be welcomed, there are still too many cases of this type of hate crime,” British Home Secretary Theresa May said in response to the report. “We also know that these types of crimes are often underreported. We must give victims the confidence to coming forward to report these terrible acts.”
She said the UK government was working closely with the Jewish community and law enforcement agencies to reduce anti-Semitic incidents.
CST Chief Executive David Delew said: The fall in the number of incidents was expected but not as great as had been hoped in the absence of any significant trigger incident such as an Israeli military operation.
“We welcome the possibility that more people are reporting incidents to CST and the police, but the number of anti-Semitic incidents remains unacceptably high. The Jewish community has a right to expect anti-Semitism to be opposed wherever it occurs.
It should have no place in our society.”
British Ambassador to Israel David Quarrey also welcomed the reduction in incidents but said the numbers were still unacceptable.
“These figures are still deeply concerning: Even one attack is one too many. Through the Cross-Government Working Group on anti-Semitism, which includes representatives from the government and the Jewish community, we are taking a number of practical steps to tackle anti-Semitism and support the community.
The Jewish community is a vital part of life in the UK. Its success, diversity and contribution to the country should be an inspiration for all.”
Last May, Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to provide £11.9 million per year toward security requirements for Jewish schools and synagogues in Britain, while the police have entered into a national data sharing agreement with the CST to monitor anti-Semitism.