British Jews record 2,255 antisemitic incidents last year — the highest tally in Europe

The United Kingdom had antisemitic 2,255 incidents in 2021, an increase of 34% from the 1,684 incidents recorded in 2020.

 A video posted Dec. 1 shows young men harassing Jews on a Chabad bus on a Londaon street.  (photo credit: SCREENSHOT/THE JEWISH CHRONICLE)
A video posted Dec. 1 shows young men harassing Jews on a Chabad bus on a Londaon street.
(photo credit: SCREENSHOT/THE JEWISH CHRONICLE)

British Jews and authorities recorded 2,255 antisemitic incidents in the United Kingdom in 2021, the highest total ever reported in a single calendar year by the Community Security Trust, British Jewry’s antisemitism watchdog, and the highest total in recent years anywhere in Europe.

The CST report published on Wednesday found an increase of antisemitic incidents of 34%, up from 1,684 incidents recorded in 2020. The 2021 tally is 24% higher than the previous record of 1,813 incidents reported in 2019.

Of the 2021 tally in the UK, 871 incidents happened in May and June, during and immediately after the Israel-Hamas war, and when Israeli Arabs and Jews were clashing in Israel’s “mixed cities.”

“It is no exaggeration to say that the landscape of UK-based antisemitism in 2021 is largely defined by responses to conflict in Israel and Palestine, as indeed is the unprecedented annual figure,” CST wrote in the report.

Assaults accounted for 176, or nearly 8% of the tally, including three incidents that involved “extreme violence,” as CST termed it.

Pro-Palestine protesters demonstrate outside Downing Street in London, Britain, June 12, 2021.  (credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)Pro-Palestine protesters demonstrate outside Downing Street in London, Britain, June 12, 2021. (credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)

In one violent incident in October, a group of teenage girls riding on scooters in north London mobbed two Jewish girls, shouting “dirty Jews” at them. At least two of the alleged attackers choked one of the Jewish girls and slammed her against a brick wall.

Seven assaults involved the offender stripping the victim of religious clothes or accessories. In six instances, a vehicle was used with the intention of causing harm to pedestrians, the report said.

But the incidents with the largest footprint in the media and public discourse featured milder violence and more intimidation.

In December, Jews celebrating Hanukkah on a bus in London were harassed by a group of men. The BBC coverage of the Oxford Street incident, in which the broadcaster insisted based on disputed evidence that the assaulted Jews might have used an anti-Muslim slur against their attackers, triggered frustration among Jews and sparked an internal probe that led the BBC to slightly revise its claim.

Another incident that many British Jews view as traumatic happened in May, and was nonviolent.

A motorcade of cars displaying Palestinian flags drove across the United Kingdom in heavily Jewish neighborhoods of London. Several of the dozens of people in the cars shouted obscenities through loudspeakers, including, “F*** the Jews, rape their daughters.”

Linzi Pinto, a Jewish mother of two from northern London, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency shortly after the incident: “It’s the mobilization, the impunity, the scale, the sheer misogyny and the violence that’s so shocking this time around. It’s the worst it’s been. It’s terrifying and we’re definitely questioning our future here. We’re fortunate to be able to leave.”

The United Kingdom has a Jewish population of 292,000. In France, with a Jewish population of 446,000, the main watchdog group recorded 589 hate crimes against Jews in 2021.